Op­tional fees at kindy

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - By BROOKE GAR­DINER

Cen­tral Otago kin­der­gartens have bro­ken with tra­di­tion and will start charg­ing op­tional fees in the new year. Eleven months into its fi­nan­cial year, the Cen­tral Otago Kinder- garten As­so­ci­a­tion re­ported a deficit of $127,000. As­so­ci­a­tion man­ager An­gela Ja­cob­son con­firmed an op­tional fee would be in­tro­duced in Jan­uary at all seven kin­der­gartens in the re­gion to help com­bat the deficit. ‘‘The board of COKA has de­cided we need to look to build our in­come. We’ve had a chal­leng­ing year in terms of in­come and fi­nances,’’ she said. From Jan­uary 23, par­ents and care­givers will be asked to pay $1 per day or 50 cents for each half day their child or at­tended kinder­garten. ‘‘We are in­tro­duc­ing an op­tional charge to cover ba­si­cally the cost of our 100 per cent trained teach­ers.’’

chil­dren

The Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry funds to a max­i­mum of 80 per cent qual­i­fied and reg­is­tered early child­hood teach­ers. Kin­der­gartens had made a na­tion­wide com­mit­ment to em­ploy only qual­i­fied teach­ers and par­ents and care­givers would be asked to sign an agree­ment to pay the fee dur­ing the en­rol­ment process and would be billed monthly, she said. In March, the as­so­ci­a­tion floated the idea of in­tro­duc­ing

We are in­tro­duc­ing the fees for a rea­son . . . we do need to in­crease our

in­come.

a do­na­tion which would have been dif­fi­cult to en­force so they had in­tro­duced an op­tional fee which fell within Min­istry fund­ing rules, she said. She did not think par­ents would feel pres­sured to pay. ‘‘If they don’t want to pay it they don’t have to.’’ As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Gigi Hol­lyer con­firmed the deficit for the 2012 fi­nan­cial year was sig­nif­i­cant and said they were look­ing at other ways to de­crease ex­pen­di­ture. ‘‘We are in­tro­duc­ing the fees for a rea­son . . . we do need to in­crease our in­come.’’ Fol­low­ing cuts to government fund­ing two years ago, the as­so­ci­a­tion had in­tro­duced sev­eral cost-cut­ting mea­sures to im­prove sus­tain­abil­ity but that was not enough, she said. Re­search had been done to en­sure fees were set at an ap­pro­pri­ate level and at the lower end of that scale. ‘‘We want to make it achiev­able for peo­ple . . . if peo­ple opt in and buy it, that is go­ing to be a good sit­u­a­tion for us.’’

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