Kindys up in arms over cutbacks

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Queenstown kindergartens are asking parents to put pen to paper to protest the Government cutting early childhood education funding. 

Funds for qualified kindy teachers are being chopped next year from 100 to 80 per cent – meaning bulk funding for the Central Otago Kindergarten Association will be about $234,000 less than at present. 

COKA president Gigi Hollyer says local facilities are following the New Zealand Kindergarten stance on not compromising over only employing fully trained staff. 

“We’re just going to have to meet those costs really because we believe it’s really important to have 100 per cent qualified teachers with our children,” Hollyer says. “That stands us apart from other centres in the area.” 

Petitions have been in local kindergartens since Monday and Hollyer plans to hand them over to MP Jacqui Dean. 

To combat the cuts, from January not-for-profit Frankton and Wakatipu kindergartens will charge a new $3 fee for kids who stay longer than the Government-paid 20 hours, and the fee for school day kindergartens will be bumped up from $2 to $4.50. 

Kindys will open an extra week a year and Awakoura awards – given out to teachers for professional development – have been axed. 

Despite these changes, COKA is still left with almost $100,000 of a shortfall. 

Wakatipu Kindergarten president Amanda Elliot and her Frankton counterpart Steve McIsaac say parent committees already fundraise for building maintenance or extras, and they’re worried volunteers will dry up if they’re constantly called on to help bridge the gap. 

And while there are local funds to tap into, the two Queenstown kindys – which have 40 tots each in the mornings and 40 more in the afternoons – will be competing for a share of the same pie, Elliot says.