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Enterprise still aims to have its own school, former mayor says
Northern News Services
Published Monday, August 8, 2011
The information is contained in a June letter from Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) Minister Jackson Lafferty in response to a letter from the Hamlet of Enterprise.
"There is no set process or road map for establishing a school in a community," Lafferty wrote.
"There are, however, conditions that would need to be in place before ECE would go forward with planning a school for Enterprise."
Those conditions include strong support from the community, confirmation that the number of children who would attend would warrant a school, determination that projected enrolments indicate a stable or growing student population, and a plan that presents the community's ideas for the start-up of a school.
The minister's letter did not commit to creating a school in Enterprise.
Lafferty noted there had been discussion between the community and ECE staff in 2000 about the idea, but it did not proceed past the discussion stage because most parents were happy with their children attending school in Hay River.
"I understand the situation may be different today," he wrote.
Lafferty was responding to a May letter from Enterprise Mayor Al Flamand, who noted there has been a resurgence of young families living in the community.
"This became more evident when council discovered there are now 27 children under the age of 10 in Enterprise, and more babies on the way," the mayor stated in his letter.
Currently, up to 14 children from kindergarten to Grade 12 are bused from Enterprise to Hay River each day.
"With new growing families in the community, council feels now is the time to take steps to identify how and when a school might be developed in the community," Flamand wrote.
The council sought the information at the request of an informal committee of community members interested in seeing a school in Enterprise.
"We just didn't want to go off in every direction and then not do what was necessary," said Winnie Cadieux, the committee organizer and a former mayor of Enterprise.
"There is support from the community in general, but we need to show (the GNWT) support from parents in the community that they would send their children to school in Enterprise," Cadieux said.
The informal committee will meet sometime between mid-August and mid-September to review the points in the minister's letter.
Cadieux noted there were about a dozen people at the committee's first meeting in the spring.
She said the committee would become more formal if the community moves toward forming a district education authority, which is required to set up a school.
Cadieux said a school would be important for Enterprise
"It's just a community place for everybody to participate," she said.
"It kind of brings people together."
The committee has not yet defined what kind of education process or system it would like to see in the community.
Cadieux said it could be a kindergarten to Grade 4 school or possibly some kind of alternative education system that would encompass other learning forms.
She said the effort to create a school in Enterprise a decade ago came to a standstill because some families moved out of the community, but there are now new, young families moving in.
Currently, the community has a preschool program, which is offered three times a week beginning in the fall.