Island Bay childcare centre may get reprieve

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
EDUCATION REPORTER
Last updated 05:00 27/08/2012

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An Island Bay childcare centre facing closure because of asbestos and its failure to fit the divine mission of its religious landlords may yet be saved.

Two potential sites are being considered to house Wellington's Aubert Childcare Centre, which is due to close at the end of the year.

The cost of replacing the centre's asbestos roof was originally cited by its owners, the Sisters of Compassion, as the reason for its closure. But they later rejected offers by parents to cover the $300,000 replacement, saying the decision had been made because the centre no longer aligned with the order's mission.

Closure would leave 60 families and 22 staff without a centre.

Initial efforts to find a replacement property in the suburb were unsuccessful, but Aubert Childcare Centre board chairman Kelvin Wong said about five options had come to light last week.

Some were unsuitable, but two sites were being considered - a hall building and an accommodation block in the Strathmore and Seatoun areas.

There was "cautious excitement" among parents and the board, who had been "running around" trying to make it happen, Mr Wong said.

"We're so thankful for the community for rallying around and giving support.

"It's been quite mind-blowing that people would go out of their way to help Aubert Childcare Centre."

A massive fundraising exercise would be required to fit out a new building, and they hoped a decision would be made in the next couple of weeks as to whether a move would go ahead, he said.

"We have to see whether the teaching team and the parents are supportive of that, because it is a bit of a geographical shift." They would then have administrative and operational issues to tick off, including resource consent, he said.

The Sisters indicated that if a site was found, they would consider keeping the centre open until a new one was ready.

Mother Aubert Home of Compassion Trust Board chairwoman Sister Margaret Anne Mills was aware there were alternatives being looked at, but had not seen any formal proposals yet.

Whether they could allow the centre to remain on site depended on timing and the costs of keeping the asbestos environment safe.

But the Sisters would help with relocating the centre in any way they could.

Contact Jody O'Callaghan
Education reporter
Email: jody.o'callaghan@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @miss_jodyo

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- The Dominion Post

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