Status quo not what it used to be

Iqaluit swap teaching positions to maintain last year’s numbers



Education Minister Manitok Thompson’s assurance this month that “there will be no layoff notices going to the schools” has come across as a hollow promise to principals in Iqaluit.

Though the schools overseen by the Iqaluit District Education Authority will receive a net increase in teaching positions next year, according to department of education numbers the two elementary schools are supposed to lose staff.

Only through internal switching, by borrowing from the high school, has the IDEA been able to maintain the status quo that Thompson spoke about during the legislative assembly sitting in Baker Lake June 2.

Joamie School could have lost as many as one and a half positions according to the department’s formula funding arrangement.

“That’s a big strain on that school. It’s almost inoperable,” said Kathy Smith, chair of the IDEA.

But after the minister made her statement, department staff crunched the numbers once again, giving the school more than its formula allotment – but only by taking from Inuksuk High School’s allotment.

Terry Young, the principal of the high school, said during a regular IDEA meeting on Monday that the increase in enrollment at the high school justifies an increase of four teachers.

“It feels as though you have been tricked,” said Rhoda Ungalaaq, a member of the IDEA.

Qikiqtani School Operations, the branch of the department that monitors schools in the Baffin region maintains that DEAs have the freedom to allocate resources between schools as they see fit.

But Smith said DEA members couldn’t justify taking more positions from the high school, or restoring the positions taken from the high school and leaving the elementary schools with a net loss.

“It would have been a very uncomfortable position to put the DEA in,” she said.

While Thompson’s edict has left the Iqaluit schools better off than they were a few weeks ago (all schools would have lost staff), it hasn’t created the even playing field her words suggested.

“Everybody is less than they should be by formula,” Smith said.

“All we’ve been doing the last few years is maintaining status quo.”

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