$1.4m boost eases Warrnambool and Koroit kinder crisis

TWO milestone kindergarten projects worth about $1.4 million in Warrnambool and Koroit have been given the green light with $600,000 funding from the state government.

Koroit’s outdated 51-year-old kinder building will be replaced with a $1.1 million hub at the town’s former hospital site, while the Warrnambool West Primary School will host a new $300,000 campus of the adjacent Beamish Street pre-school.

It will be the first co-shared kindergarten on a state school site in Warrnambool.

Both funding announcements from South West Coast MP Denis Napthine come as kindergarten operators  grapple with challenges of   more teaching hours, a looming higher staff-children ratio and increasing enrolments.

Warrnambool’s 10 kindergartens are almost at capacity and Koroit’s sole teaching room is bursting at the seams. Work on both projects will start early next year with the aim to have them in use by 2014.

Koroit and District Pre- School Committee secretary Tammy Langdon and director Debbie Ferguson were overjoyed by the funding announcement after years of fund-raising and lobbying.

“We’ve only got one room and can’t meet our requirement for 15 hours teaching a week per child,” Ms Langdon said.

“It will be a win-win for the whole community to have a new kinder on the old hospital wing facing High Street, which will be part of a hub for health and child-care under Moyne Health Services.

 “The former Koroit and district hospital board has given us $300,000 and Moyne Shire Council will match the state’s $300,000 and has promised to match further contributions up to $400,000.”

Warrnambool West Primary School principal Gavin Arnott and city council community services manager Kellie King said two  unused school classrooms would be renovated to create facilities for 44 kindergarten-age children.

The school section will be fenced off and have its own entrance onto Hoddle Street close to the Beamish Street kinder.

“It’s a brilliant use of space and facilities - our school council started looking at this concept two years ago and we would eventually like to have a child-care hub here,” Mr Arnott said.

Ms King said the  school project would help ease pressure across all the city’s 10 kindergartens, nine of which were managed by the council. 

“By 2016 the staff-to-child ratio will drop from 1/15 to 1/11 and  with existing facilities we would not cope,” she said. 

Dr Napthine said the grants were part of a $40m statewide program for upgrades or development of integrated service hubs.

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