Par­ents of­fer higher fees

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Par­ents are fight­ing to keep their chil­dren at one of Tawa’s best-loved preschools, as its par­ent com­pany pro­poses to move them to less pop­u­lar cen­tres in the sub­urb.

Par­ents whose chil­dren at­tend ABC Tawa North in Hinau St were in­formed on Au­gust 31 by Kidi­corp that the cen­tre may close.

Kidi­corp owns three preschools in Tawa which are all un­der-at­tended, and it makes sense to close one, says owner and chief ex­ec­u­tive Wayne Wright.

Kidi­corp is propos­ing trans­plant­ing groups of chil­dren to­gether with their teach­ers to its Ox­ford St Community Kindy or to Early Years Red­wood, he says.

‘‘We’re try­ing to do the right thing to ev­ery­body. We have got the in­ter­ests of the chil­dren and the teach­ers at heart.’’

An­other chal­lenge is ABC Tawa North does not meet 2008 Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion build­ing stan­dards, which must be in place by early next year, Mr Wright says. The cen­tre is a con­verted house, rather than a pur­pose­built preschool, lacks in­door-out­door play ar­eas, and has awk­ward rooms which makes watch­ing chil­dren dif­fi­cult, he says.

‘‘It’s got ab­so­lutely ter­ri­ble vis­i­bil­ity is­sues.’’

Kidi­corp’s other Tawa cen­tres are com­pli­ant with min­istry stan­dards.

It would cost $85,000 to bring ABC Tawa North up to scratch, Mr Wright says. ‘‘Ef­fi­ciency is a fac­tor, of course. We have to bal­ance our bud­get and that cen­tre is not con­tribut­ing.’’

Thirty par­ents met Kidi­corp man­age­ment last Thurs­day to ex­press their con­cerns. Par­ent Barry Ryan de­scribed the meet­ing as ‘‘heated’’.

‘‘The lack of trans­parency and the lack of dis­clo­sure and the lack of en­gage­ment has a lot of par­ents very con­cerned.’’

ABC Tawa North was specif­i­cally cho­sen by many par­ents for its at­mos­phere, great play spa­ces and car­ing staff, Mr Ryan says. Whit­by­based Mr Ryan is happy to travel fur­ther be­cause his child thrives there, he says.

ABC Tawa North re­ceived a glow­ing Ed­u­ca­tion Re­view Of­fice re­port in 2010, while re­ports for the Red­wood cen­tre and an ABC in Whitby list prob­lems such as hy­giene, high staff turnover, lack of re­sources and poor in­ter­ac­tion with chil­dren.

‘‘[ Par­ents] didn’t feel that the other cen­tres matched up to an ac­cept­able qual­ity and stan­dard,’’ Mr Ryan says.

Par­ents have of­fered to pay higher fees to keep ABC Tawa North open, he says.

Mr Wright ac­cepts not all par­ents will ac­cept the move, which may lengthen some chil­dren’s travel times. But in this case par­ents have re­acted strongly be­fore the sit­u­a­tion could be ex­plained to them, he says.

Kidi­corp will up­date par­ents about the cen­tre’s fu­ture on Oc­to­ber 10.

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