School child-centre rent hikes delayed
A large turnout of concerned parents and child-care staff at a budget meeting prompted the Greater Victoria school board to hold off on the possible doubling or tripling of rent for child-care centres at district schools, and launch a public consultation process.
“We had a whole roomful of people in there and it was good for trustees to get the first-hand point of view from all these people about what their issues are,” said school board vice-chairman Tom Ferris. “And I think what was evident was that not everybody’s issue is the same.”
The school district still has to do something about the centres, he said. “You can’t go five or six years without increasing your fees and expect to cover the costs of operating facilities.”
Katy Rose, president of the Strawberry Vale Co-operative Pre-School, was at the Wednesday night meeting and said it was a good feeling to be listened to.
“It was a pretty exciting meeting to attend and it was a unanimous decision by the trustees to delay the rental increases,” she said. “It felt like a pretty big victory and just a positive experience of the community coming out and standing up for something, and really pulling together to make a change happen.”
Ferris said parents clearly have worries. “I’m a grandparent so I know what the issues are, trying to take care of a child and also be close to schools.”
The board will be seeking public input, Ferris said, with superintendent Piet Langstraat expected to give direction when trustees meet next on Monday.
A decision doesn’t have to be made right away, he said. “I don’t think we’re in a big hurry. Our primary objective would be to be able to inform users of what their expectations can be.”
Rose said she anticipates the consultation will take time, and will be signing children up for the next school year at current rates.