Delayed school renos threaten ‘ripple effect’ in Tuktoyaktuk
Tuktoyaktuk’s MLA says delays to renovation work at the community’s school risk depriving students and residents of the space they need.
Jackie Jacobson wants the NWT government to bring in four portable classrooms that would free up Mangilaluk School’s new gym for the start of the next academic year in September.
The gym is currently serving as a teaching space while classrooms elsewhere in the school are renovated.
Ultimately, the renovations will give the school a much larger gym than was previously the case, with a library, kitchen and other facilities replacing the former gym. The school says it will also be better equipped to serve its 240 or so students from junior kindergarten to Grade 12.
A 2021 schedule had estimated that virtually all of the work would be complete by this month. Jacobson, whose Nunakput electoral district includes Tuk, said the work was expected to cost more than $30 million.
Speaking in the legislature on Tuesday, Jacobson said the school was now forced to try renting space elsewhere in Tuk – at churches or the community hall – while awaiting the completion of refurbishment work.
He said bringing in portable classrooms represented a better alternative than taking up community spaces that ought to be used by others, and the portable units could be added to Tuk’s housing stock afterward.
“This is supposed to be a good news story, but now it’s nothing but headaches,” Jacobson said.
“It has a ripple effect on my students and community. There’s no gym? Mental health issues. It ripples right across the community as a whole, having no gym.”
Infrastructure minister Diane Archie said the GNWT has no spare portables it can send nor the budget to pay for any new ones.
“We are working with the contractor to be able to get an updated schedule so that we can share that with the community,” Archie said.
The minister said her department was working with the contractor to “allow the gym to be open at the start of the school year.”