Community preschools call for rate freeze from Council in struggle to retain viability

by Freya Lucas

August 22

Five not-for-profit preschools in Sydney’s north western suburbs have called on a local council to renegotiate rent for their preschools across the district, with The Daily Telegraph reporting rates are set to “skyrocket” 500 per cent. 

 

The pre-schools – Cherrybrook Community, Larool in Thornleigh, North Epping Kindergarten, Norwood Community in Asquith and The Jack and Jill Kindergarten in Hornsby launched a “Fair Rents for Community Preschools” campaign recently, calling on councillors from Hornsby Shire Council to freeze current rental rates “in order to ensure the future of these preschools”.

 

Director of Cherrybrook Community Preschool, Janet Campbell told The Telegraph that other Sydney councils recognised the value of community preschools and only charged cost-recovery rates.

 

Ms Campbell said that keeping rates “fair” would allow all families, regardless of financial capacity, to access preschool programs. In the event that rents and rates rose in line with predictions, the costs would need to be passed on to families, which may exclude some members of the community, she added. 

 

Pearl Sachinwalla, Director of The Jack and Jill Kindergarten told The Telegraph the rent increase was “fundamentally unfair”, adding that the pre-schools involved in the protest are run by families, for families, and are not commercial entities. Exposing the pre-schools to commercial rents, she said “puts our future at risk”. 

 

The Telegraph’s reporting indicates some in the Council are in favour of initiatives – such as no staged increases in rental rates for community preschools for five years – which would lessen the financial risk to the community based preschools, whilst others appear in favour. 

 

Hornsby Mayor Philip Ruddock told local paper The Advocate that it was unfair to provide subsidies for some Hornsby-based preschools and not others.

 

“We have a small number of preschools previously owned and operated by council. However, these community organisations are seeking subsided costs,” he told The Advocate, outlining the difficulty posed in balancing the needs of all children in the community. 

 

“It is a difficult question in terms of fairness and equity and we are dealing with a total 300 children, while another 6,000 children in other centres wouldn’t receive subsidies,” he said. 

 

A spokesperson for Hornsby Council told the publication that no community preschool had raised financial hardship with council officers prior to the campaign launch.

To read the coverage of this story, as produced by The Telegraph please see here.

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