Parents, staff and residents opposed to the proposed closure of three Altona kindergartens say they are “satisfied” after Hobsons Bay council agreed to consult the community and delay its decision until March.
Staff at Altona, Somers Parade and Altona West kindergartens had been told recently that the centres would be closed down over the next three years to be merged in to a new $6.9million hub in the grounds of Altona P-9 College.
However, councillors last Tuesday voted to start consulting with the three kindergartens on the pros and cons of various options.
An officer’s report presented at last week’s council meeting stated that maintaining the existing buildings was not viable as the kindergartens did not have space to meet new legislated ratios of one staff member to 11 children, to be implemented next year.
Maintaining the buildings would cost $1.2million over 10 years. It would cost $1.8million to upgrade the buildings to comply with the legislated ratios, the report stated.
Replacing the buildings would cost $4.9million.
Last week’s meeting was told there was no urgent deadline to use $1.6 million of state government funding, which the council received late last year to establish an integrated early-years hub in the Altona precinct.
Two petitions against the closures were tabled at last week’s meeting: one signed by 643 people and another by 88 children from St Mary’s Primary School.
Lead petitioner Aaron Hunt said people were satisfied the council had decided to consult with the kindergarten communities.
He said the council had to consider the “social capital” of the kindergartens when evaluating options.
“I think if they don’t address that, then they’ll get it wrong,” he said.
“If they address that, then they’ll be able to sufficiently engage the community … whatever the solution.”