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 Victoria Standard - - Front Page - CAR­OLYN BAR­BER

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.

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