Mt Helena and Glen Forrest families appeal for enrolment threshold funding concession for community kindergartens

Kirsty Jost with Skye and Indie and concerned
parents with their children. Picture: David Baylis d482090
Kirsty Jost with Skye and Indie and concerned parents with their children. Picture: David Baylis d482090

FAMILIES with children at community kindergartens are appealing for a concession to the enrolment threshold on funding.

They will ask the State Government for more time to increase their registrations from 10 to 16 children for next year’s intake.

The cut-off date is less than three months away.

Pre-school 2019 enrolments for public schools and community kindergartens close on July 20.

Mt Helena Community Kindergarten’s Narelle Thredgold yesterday shared her concerns with Swan Hills MLA Jessica Shaw.

Ms Shaw told the Gazette “a number of residents” had contacted her about the future of local community kindergartens.

“Community kindergartens are such an integral part of our semi-rural communities and I will fight hard to ensure they continue to operate,” she said.

Mrs Thredgold said the 30-year-old kindy reopened in Mt Helena this year with 10 toddlers after closing in 2016 due to lack of numbers.

“We have even more parents interested for next year and we’d prefer not to have a cut-off date because many families don’t enrol until later in the year,” she said.

“We also run a playgroup for younger children and if the kindy shuts, we’d struggle financially to keep the playgroup open.”

Community kindergartens supplement education funding with fundraising and local government grants.

The Department of Education funding includes an annual operating grant based on the number of enrolments, salaries paid to teachers and education assistants, and professional support provided through the linked public school.

Mrs Thredgold said before about 2012, the policy was to fill 20 places at community kindergartens before offering pre-school enrolments at public school.

Mt Helena Community Kindergarten parent committee president Narelle Thredgold with her children
Xanthe (4) and Kobe (18 months) and other concerned parents and children. Picture: David Baylis

She said Kalamunda, Bullsbrook and Glen Forrest community kindergartens also were vulnerable to the enrolment threshold.

Teacher Jan Jost taught her daughter and two of her grandchildren at Glen Forrest Community Kindergarten, where she has worked for the past 30 years.

She urged parents to visit the kindergarten and playgroup Open Day on May 20.

“I would be devastated if it could not operate due to not meeting the minimum number of 16 applications before July 20th,” she said.

An education spokewoman said the new enrolment threshold was a responsible financial decision.

“Unfortunately, as an increasing number of families have chosen to enrol their children at schools rather than community kindergartens, the cost-efficiency of provision at community kindergartens running small classes has declined,” she said.

Community kindergartens must provide confirmed enrolments for the following year by August 10 2018.

Education Minister Sue Ellery said community kindergartens were notified of the new enrolment threshold in December.

“Where a community kindergarten has fewer than the required projected enrolments, the Department will consider an extension on a case-by-case basis. This is normal practice,” she said.

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