The closure of Bowen Park Kindergarten at the end of 2017 will place significant pressure on local kindergarten services Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood has this week told State Parliament.
In his address to the Legislative Assembly, Mr Blackwood said funding was urgently needed to help meet the loss of capacity with the closure of Bowen Park Kinder at the end of the year and cope with the significant increase in the population of Warragul and surrounding areas.
‘Baw Baw Shire has four community-based sessional kindergartens in Warragul which are already under pressure with a huge growth in the number of young families moving to the area,’ Mr Blackwood said.
‘Bowen Park, one of those community-based facilities supported by Baw Baw Shire, is closing at the end of 2017 and will result in a loss of 52 places increasing stress on kindergarten capacity.
‘Warragul is a fantastic place to live and we have seen an influx of young families moving to the town. This year will also see West Gippsland Hospital deliver more than 1,000 babies and with only around 600 four year old kinder places currently available the situation is fast reaching crisis point.
Mr Blackwood said funds had been allocated by the Baw Baw Shire and it was not unreasonable to expect the State Government to play their part to help address the impending shortfall.
‘In partnership with Warragul Primary School, Baw Baw Shire are proposing the delivery of a new co-located kindergarten facility which will offer children access to an integrated service that will ease the transition from kinder to primary education for students.
‘This is a perfect site for a new early learning centre, in a central location, with close proximity to the centre of town and ample room at the site to accommodate a new building.
‘This model for co-location is already a proven success with the establishment of early learning centres on primary school sites within my electorate at Yarragon Primary School and Drouin Primary School.
‘Each of these sites has thrived following the co-location and it makes sense to deliver a new early learning centre at Warragul Primary to enhance the high standard of education currently provided by the dedicated, hard -working Teachers and Staff.
‘It is vitally important the State Government and Minister come to the table and help deliver this early learning infrastructure for Warragul before the already strained kindergarten services reach a critical shortfall in capacity,’ said Mr Blackwood.