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Iglulik high school still on hold; Kugaaruk's new school opens soon

Iglulik's new high school was expected to open for the 2018-19 school year but it sat empty and it will remain that way until January, according to the Department of Education.

The new high school in Iglulik isn't expected to open until January as a dispute over deficient flooring is resolved.
photo courtesy of the Government of Nunavut

The Government of Nunavut and Quebec-based contractor FCNQ Construction had been deadlocked over a flooring dispute but there's now an agreed upon plan to fix it, stated Tracey MacMillan, assistant deputy minister with the Department of Education.

The concrete flooring in the new school was affected by “excessive cracking” and it's uneven in colour, according to MacMillan.

“The project was put on hold to determine the best way to move forward and to make sure that this this important new facility has attractive and durable floors,” she stated.

An independent engineer was brought in to help review the flooring problem. The contractor subsequently proposed corrective action and the GN has accepted it, said MacMillan, who noted that the government is protected by a performance bond and the GN has held back money from FCNQ in the meantime to “protect the GN's financial interests.”

The repairs are expected to be essentially complete by late October, but other preparations will need to be carried out. Therefore, students won't be able to begin classes at the new high school until early in the new year.

A spokesperson for FCNQ couldn't be reached for comment prior to press deadline.

Tony Nutarakittuq, chair of the Iglulik District Education Authority, said he's satisfied the territorial government has handled the situation as well as it could.

“Yes, definitely,” Nutarakittuq said. “They have their reasons for it not to open – for safety reasons.”

Senior students in Iglulik will continue to use the community's old high school in the interim.

Kugaaruk's new school almost done

Contractor Kudlik Construction is due to turn over the new $40-million school in Kugaaruk to the Government of Nunavut on Aug. 15. The first day of classes for students is scheduled for Aug. 28. It will be known as Arviligruaq Illiniarvik, which is in homage to the bowhead whale.
photo courtesy of the Government of Nunavut

In the Kitikmeot, Kugaaruk's new $40-million educational facility is in its final stages and expected to be in the hands of the GN as of Aug. 15, according to MacMillan.

Students are slated to start classes there on Aug. 28.

Netsilik MLA Emiliano Qirngnuq said there's great anticipation in the community relating to the brand new facility.

“The teachers and the school kids are just itching to move into the school,” he said. “The whole town is real excited and very happy for the new school.”

Athol Ihakkaq, chair of the Kugaaruk District Education Authority, said, "We're going to have a better school for 2019... we really need a new school and bigger classrooms. That's what we need for the future. Now we're going to have a better school hopefully for 50 years."

Students have spent the last two years learning in modular classrooms that were shipped into the community via sealift or in a few buildings converted into makeshift learning facilities.

Unlike its predecessor, which was burned to the ground in an act of arson in February 2017, the new school won't bear the name Kugaardjuk Ilihakvik. Instead it will be called Arviligruaq Illiniarvik, which is a tribute to the bowhead whale, said Qirngnuq.

The 49,470-square-foot building is designed to accommodate up to 450 students. The former school was 36,425 square feet.

“The teachers and the school kids are just itching to move into the school,” says Netsilik MLA Emiliano Qirngnuq. “The whole town (Kugaaruk) is real excited and very happy for the new school.” photo courtesy of the Government of Nunavut