‘No funding, no support and no solution’ for pre-school
FACING an uncertain future with the impending closure of Alstonville Baptist Community Pre-school, parents and children armed themselves with protest signs at Clunes yesterday looking for answers from Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli.
Alstonville Pre-school committee member Katherine Buckley said the NSW education department was notified of the closure of the preschool in late 2011 but had done little to help.
She said without a pre-school at Alstonville, 75 families face the possibility their children won't get the education they deserve.
"Over a year ago the current pre-school gave notice of their intention to close after 40 years of service," she said.
Since that announcement the committee had been scouting the area for potential sites and identified Crawford Park as a suitable space to build a preschool that was estimated to cost $1.4 million.
Ms Buckley said two weeks ago members of the committee travelled to Sydney to stress the dire situation to Mr Piccoli.
"Both the urgency of the situation, the difficulties in identifying a suitable site and the need for capital funding were discussed with Minister Piccoli."
Mr Piccoli promised to reply to their concerns by April 5, but the group received a reply stating there was no funding available an hour before meeting the education minister face to face yesterday.
Ms Buckley said the reply contained no funding allocation, no support and no offer of a solution.
"This leaves us with no venue for a preschool and ultimately no preschool for Alstonville at the end of the year."
With the growth of the Northern Rivers, Ms Buckley said finding a place in a preschool was a challenge.
"I have called every pre-school in Lismore, Ballina and Wollongbar and there is nowhere to go for our kids."
Mr Piccoli said governments couldn't solve every issue of every community.
"I made it very clear a couple of weeks ago that the State Government does not build pre-schools and never has built pre-schools," he said.
"So their request for the State Government to build a pre-school is unfortunately something we can't satisfy."
Mr Piccoli invited Alstonville Pre-School to apply for a grant to build a pre-school from the $5m set aside for capital works he announced at Clunes.