District supports push for daycares

Nanaimo school officials support use of empty space in schools by child-care providers.

Nanaimo school officials think proposed provincial legislation that would require school boards to promote the use of school property by child-care providers but prohibit districts from profiting is a good move.

Education Minister Don McRae wrote a letter to school boards recently explaining the legislation, which is intended to maximize the availability of affordable child care in schools.

Donna Reimer, school district spokeswoman, said Nanaimo trustees are well ahead of the legislation, which was introduced Feb. 22.

The week before, the board had already asked staff to assess the potential for additional child care facilities in secondary schools across the city after hearing a presentation about Little Ferns Early Learning Centre, which operates out of a building next to John Barsby Secondary School.

Reimer said there are already a number of before- and after-school daycare programs as well as a few all-day programs in schools.

“We do have vacant rooms throughout the district,” she said.

Trustee Bill Bard said there are wait lists throughout the district to get a child into licensed daycare spaces and opening up empty spaces could help the district with its bottom line because there are still costs associated with empty rooms. If someone is paying the costs to be in that space, that relieves the burden on the district even if it can’t make a profit, he said.

“I don’t believe we make a lot of profit on community groups using space,” Bard added.