Future of Baddeck nursery uncertain
Province's expansion of pre-primary program could spell end of 45-year-old school; County also misses out on new child care centre funding
The Baddeck Nursery School faces an uncertain future with next year’s expansion of the province’s universal pre-primary program.
On March 7, the province announced the addition of 130 new pre-primary classes this fall in 87 school communities across Nova Scotia, including Baddeck. The timing of the announcement – just prior to March Break and amidst new legislation – means the nursery school board is waiting for answers about the future of their program.
“We haven’t received anything official from the school board. But, basically, it looks like our space will turn into the pre-primary room for Baddeck Academy,” said nursery school board member Holly Macinnis.
“It's fine and dandy the pre-primary program welcomes our four-year old students, and it is probably a wonderful program. Our community is lucky to get it. But now we're faced with the fact that because we're
losing our four-year olds, we won't be able to have a threeyear old program.”
The privately-run nursery school is celebrating its 45th anniversary this spring. It rents a renovated classroom in the elementary wing of the K-12 Baddeck Academy, providing a two-day/week junior pre-k program for 10 children and a three-day/week pre-k program for approximately 20 children.
“The other concern is that the space is the only space in our community that's actually licensed to have such a program.”
Macinnis also worries about pre-primary options for children outside the Baddeck catchment area should the nursery school close its doors.
“The catchment area applies to pre-primary the same way it does for P-12. So, where we see all our Middle River junior and senior classmates coming in for nursery school, it looks like this will eliminate opportunities for them to join pre-primary. That’s disappointing.”
Meanwhile, parents of children aged four and under may be disappointed to learn that Victoria County did not make the list of counties identified as needing new child care centres.
On March 6, the provincial government announced an $8.9 million investment in up to 1000 new regulated childcare spaces across the province. $6.9 million is designated for up to 500 new child care spaces in the home-based regulated child care setting and 500 spaces spread across 15 new regulated child care centres being created in communities in need of child care. The remaining $2 million is a one-time grant to help existing centres to adapt to changing childcare needs of their communities.
“Many criteria were used to identify counties most in need of child care centres, such as population demographics and density using census data, Early Development Instrument (EDI) results, current allocation and usage of existing child care spaces, and results of our recent consultation with families across Nova Scotia, including those in Victoria County,” said Media Relations Advisor for the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Heather Fairborn.
“While not included in the 11 counties considered among those in the greatest need of a regulated child care centre, Victoria County can still benefit from the expansion of approved family home day cares, which for some areas of the province is a more viable option than regulated centres.”
Fairborn also pointed out the $2M in space conversion grants to convert existing centres to better meet the needs of the community. It is not clear that this money would be available to anyone in Victoria County. The deadline for applications is Friday, March 16 – the end of March Break and just ten days after the funding was announced.