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Inclusive schooling loses $1 million

Lyndsay Herman
Northern News Services
Published Monday, June 25, 2012

The territorial government has decided to reallocate up to $1 million from inclusive schooling to early childhood education.

"Our government was going through the budget approval process through the legislative assembly this past month," said Gloria Iatridis, acting deputy minister for the Department of Education, Culture and Employment. "During that review a motion was made to our department to look at investing more funds in early childhood during the 2012/2013 fiscal year and during that process our department took the opportunity to work with the standing committee through our budget approval process to make the internal reallocation."

Minister of Education, Culture and Employment Jackson Lafferty said the department chose to transfer funds from inclusive schooling, which was allocated $27 million in this year's budget, because the budget cut could be made without affecting programs or services offered to the students.

"We spend several million annually on inclusive schooling and what we are transferring is less than one percent of the (budget)," Lafferty said. "We will definitely see those changes and feel those changes but we have to find the money from within."

The department is still finalizing the early childhood education programs and projects that the reallocation will fund, but Iatridis said they will include two pilot child and family resources centres in two communities.

"The biggest thing that has come out of (discussions on child and family resource centres) is an increased need to better coordinate and integrate services so that parents can have a place to go to," said Iatridis. "It's like a one-stop shop where they can find out information on a variety of supports - parenting, daycare, health services."

Though the department does provide recommendations to schools on where to make the budget adjustments, each school board has the freedom to make their own changes.

"That absolutely makes it easier ... We do have school-based decision making," said Terry Jaffray, superintendent of the Dehcho Divisional Education Council. "Having the freedom to adjust your budget as you see fit is a good thing."

"Under inclusive schooling there are a number of categories where we provide funding and at the end of the day, the school boards have the flexibility in determining where they choose to allocate their budgets," said Iatridis.

"We did recommend through the reductions that 18 per cent of the allocation be reduced from staff development."

Jaffray said there will be no changes to school programs in the Deh Cho district and that it will not directly affect any of the students. She said the only change is that Deh Cho schools will be accepting fewer volunteers from the Frontier Foundation's Operation Beaver Program, where volunteers from around the world live in the community for 10 months and help out in classrooms or with extra-curricular programs.

- with files from Miranda Scotland

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