Days before school starts, junior kindergarten kinks still need to be ironed out in Yellowknife

Days before school starts, junior kindergarten kinks still need to be ironed out in Yellowknife

- in Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon
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The two English school boards in Yellowknife say they may need to hire additional teachers to meet the growing number of junior kindergarten students they are expecting this year.

Yellowknife Education District No. 1 (YK1) and Yellowknife Catholic Schools (YCS) say they will not know their final enrolment numbers until the first week of September, but YCS is anticipating around 100 students in junior kindergarten.

“This is actually higher than we were expecting,” said YCS superintendent Claudia Parker. “We may need to increase our staffing.”

The Department of Education funded the Catholic school board for 88 junior kindergarten students.

Claudia Parker

‘We may need to increase our staffing,’ said Yellowknife Catholic Schools superintendent Claudia Parker. (CBC)

“Our board would have to make a decision from our present budget whether they were going to hire a new staff member,” Parker explained.

“After that we would have to wait and see whether we would get any extra funding from the department. But regardless, our board would have to make the decision that’s best for our students.”

The territorial government has mandated that communities across the N.W.T. offer junior kindergarten by the 2017/2018 school year. That’s left some school boards scrambling to figure out issues around bussing, finding classroom space, and renovating classrooms and bathrooms to accommodate the younger students.

Enrolment ‘ballooned’ at 1 school

YK1 is expecting 140 junior kindergarten students this year, which is in line with what the board was predicting, but 51 of those students will be stuffed into J.H. Sissons School.

Though four of its schools are offering junior kindergarten, enrolment at J.H. Sissons has “ballooned,” according to YK1 superintendent Metro Huculak.

“We do have on standby, if we need to put an extra class in, a certified teacher who can come in,” said Huculak. 

Huculak says the board knows for certain that it will have eight junior kindergarten classes, and that may grow to nine.

The high number of students at J.H. Sissons is also expected to cause issues for the after-school program, which is run by the YWCA. Huculak says that was anticipated, so over the summer they licensed more spaces within the school — such as classrooms and foyers — for after-school care.

The Department of Education will review all the school boards’ enrolment numbers at the end of September. 

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