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Schools running without budgets

DEA chair Kathy Smith: A bad situation.

Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 10/01) - Halfway into the school year, Iqaluit schools are still operating without a budget.

Staffing and equipment problems at Qikiqtani School Operations delayed an audit of last year's budget. That in turn pushed back a tally of this year's figures.

But schools aren't strapped for cash. Each school has received financial advances and a provisional budget based on last year's figures.

Even so, District Education Authority chair Kathy Smith is not pleased.

"It is really bad," she said last week. "If something goes wrong, we get a phone call or letter saying, 'How are you going to handle this deficit?'

"What's the DEA going to do about it when we're very much out of control of the finances? If we were trying to stretch our buck and find out what we can cut down, this really prevents it. We don't have an overall picture of what the year's spending can be," she said.

School principals are less concerned.

"We have been given advances and enough to work on for now," said Terry Young of Inuksuk high school.

"It really was no burden to us up to this point. If you don't got it, you don't spend it," he explained.

At Aqsarniit school, principal Peter Geikie said he has 80 per cent of his usual budget and has been told that he'd probably get the rest.

"Actually, it's helping me save a few dollars -- part of my per cent for a rainy day now," said Geike.

Deputy education minister Tom Rich said DEAs normally receive a budget notice in September. This year, however, a change of financial staff at the QSO office in Iqaluit and trouble with computer software set back the accounting process.

Despite the delays, Rich said the audited statements have been sent for translation and will be ready "literally any day."

"It's unfortunate," he said. "But on the other hand we're not aware that anybody was holding up programs or activities at the school level because of it."