Ageing preschool faces funding crisis

Keiraville preschool is cracking under the pressure of a crippling funding shortage.

Preschool director Margaret Gleeson under a water-damaged roof. Picture: KEN ROBERTSON

Preschool director Margaret Gleeson under a water-damaged roof. Picture: KEN ROBERTSON

The 60-year-old building's roof leaks, the floor slopes, walls have gaping cracks and the office is literally breaking away from the rest of the building, director Margaret Gleeson said yesterday.

She was shocked to find the NSW government "unwilling" to help fix the "structurally compromised" building, instead suggesting the preschool's volunteer management committee seek support from licensed clubs in the area.

"With 800 community-owned preschools across the state, do they expect clubs to step in when roofs need replacing or structural work is needed?" Mrs Gleeson said.

"After year on year of poor funding it's really hard for us to have provision for major capital works.

"Our preschool community continued to provide amazing support. However, a repair bill in excess of $100,000 is beyond their fund-raising capacity."

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The NSW Department of Education and Communities should "acknowledge the amazing contribution that the community and fund-raising makes to the quality of preschool education", Mrs Gleeson said.

"When major works are needed it should not be a major burden and stress on volunteer management committees, usually made up of parents.

"Funding sources should be available to help community-owned preschools continue to service their communities."

Mrs Gleeson said the government was "irresponsible and short-sighted" and should not "stand by" when its help was needed.

Pressuring clubs was not the answer.

"They already support many community projects. The state government should not pass the buck for major capital works."

Education Minister Adrian Piccoli told the preschool there were "regrettably no funding programs" administered by the state government "that would assist the preschool to address the subsidence remediation and reconstruction issues on the site".

Yesterday, Keira MP Ryan Park said he would lobby the government to secure funds for the preschool's structural upgrade.

In November, Mrs Gleeson warned a funding crisis was already putting preschools out of reach of Illawarra residents.

The government funds just under 40 per cent of the Keiraville preschool's budget.


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