Lockeport Mayor Darian Huskilson.
By Amy Woolvett
The criticism has been swift and harsh from the community in the wake of a Town of Lockeport decision to close its preschool.
After the decision was announced last week that the Kid's Corner preschool would not reopen in the fall, there has been a public outcry from residents and parents over the loss of service.
Some were upset they were not given an opportunity to help raise funds to save the service and felt blindsided by the decision.
“A recent decision by council to cancel the kids corner program effective immediately has caused much upset and controversy in our community,” wrote Mayor Darian Huskilson in an open statement to the community.
“At the next council meeting I will be asking council to extend the closing date of the Kids Corner program for the next calendar year,” he wrote. “Hopefully this will give the needed time for the community to organize to ensure our children have access to this very important part of their foundation years.”
The Lockeport council has struggled for years to fund the town-operated preschool, which consistently runs a deficit.
Huskilson said he did not realize the community did not understand the full scope of how unstable funding for the preschool was.
Although the Mayor believes his council will agree to extend the date, he believes they will stand firm on no longer running the preschool.
“This will allow the community to get something in place,” he said.
“(The decision) Upset the Hell out of me and council…it has been there for 14 years,” said Huskilson. “But at the end of the day it’s about numbers.”
Huskilson believed the preschool would still be a viable program had the Municipality of Shelburne helped more in funding the organization.
The MoS has paid out $9000 since 2005 but Lockeport representatives believe because of the higher ratio of municipal residents in the preschool program, they should be paying a consistent fee.
“We have suggested on a number of occasions that Lockeport council review their funding requirements with (MoS) for shared services…Lockeport never responded,” said David Levy, councilor for the MoS. “It takes two to make a handshake.”
However Shelburne Municipal warden Roger Taylor, has firmly stated his municipality is not interested in running a preschool.
Because the preschool is not provincially regulated and is unlicensed it is not be able to apply for provincial grants. In order to be eligible it would first have to comply with a list of provincial standards.
Lockeport council will meet on July 28 to discuss the next step and vote on prolonging the closure of the preschool.
Community interested in saving the service have also set a meeting to discuss the issue on Wednesday, July 30.