Kindergarten upgrades create new places

MORE kindergarten places will be available for children in Maffra and Stratford following upgrades at Glassford Street Kindergarten in Maffra and the Stratford Early Years Centre in Dixon St, Stratford.

Upgrades to the Glassford St kinder, completed in December, include an additional room to accommodate an extra 26 children, enabling the kindergarten to provide extra sessions for three and four-year-olds and flexibility for other early years services to use a consulting room when needed.

The Glassford St facility upgrade cost $354,700, with the state education and early childhood development department providing in $299,700 towards the upgrade, Wellington Shire Council contributing $40,000 and the kinder’s Parent Enrichment Group raising $15,000.

The upgrades at the Stratford centre were more extensive with a new purpose built building, completed in April, erected on an adjacent council owned block of land.

The new building has allowed the centre to expand its outside play space, including the expansion of the its sandpit, and the possibility of more kinder and playgroup sessions in the future.

The state education and early childhood development department provided $300,000 towards Stratford’s $318,000 project, with the Wellington Shire Council chipping in $15,000 and the Stratford Playgroup Committee raising $3000.

Both kindergartens were officially opened by Eastern Victoria MLC Danny O’Brien, Gippsland East MLA Tim Bull and Wellington Shire Mayor Scott Rossetti on Thursday.

Mr Bull said the renovations at Stratford had increased the capacity of the centre’s four-year-old kinder from 25 to 50 places.

“As the community grows many towns in rural and regional areas have struggled to meet the demand for childcare,” Mr Bull said stressing the importance of early learning centres.

“Stratford is one of the fastest growing towns in the Wellington Shire,” Cr Rossetti said echoing Mr Bull’s sentiments, adding that it was a terrific outcome for the centre that it was able to expand into the neighbouring block.

The real test will come when the building is fitted out for the beginning of term three and extra kindergarten sessions can start.

Parents of three and a half year old pupils Melissa Leighton and Michelle Dorning were pleased with the look of the new centre and grounds, which include an extended sandpit, vegetable beds and a covered walkway between two buildings.

“The new building is a breath of fresh air,” Ms Leighton said.

“It will be a good facility for the kids to learn and play,” she added.

“It’s a fantastic new facility catering for all ranges of children,” Ms Doring said, “it’s just what Stratty needs.”

With younger children attending playgroup at the centre the pair will get the most out of the new facilities as their children grow.