Education

Preschool has grown up

By Charmayne Allison

MOAMA and District Preschool is lobbying for a new building to replace its tired and cramped facilities as the need for local preschool services continues to rise.

In 1976 the first wing was built, followed by the second in 1989 and renovations in 2010 where a foyer, disabled toilet and office were added.

Despite these updates throughout the decades, preschool committee member Alison Wright said Moama’s booming population made a new building essential.

‘‘When the preschool was originally built, this area looked very different. But over the years, Moama has developed around it,’’ she said. ‘‘This is one of the fastest-growing shires and we need to be relocated. We only have two rooms and have run out of space.’’

With the State Government planning to begin a rollout of three-year-old kinder in 2020, Moama Preschool director Narelle Blachford said they wanted to be prepared.

‘‘We have no room for three-year-olds at the moment,’’ she said.

‘‘We need another room by 2021, so when the full funding for three-year-olds comes through in New South Wales, we’ll be ready.’’

Ms Wright said the development of the new Echuca-Moama bridge had only highlighted the need for expansion — particularly as booming numbers increased risks on the roads around the preschool.

‘‘When the bridge is opened, this will become a thoroughfare,’’ she said.

‘‘There are often close calls when parents get their kids out of the car to come in and we have already asked Roads and Maritime Services to lower the speed limit in this area. But because we’re not a school zone, all we could get was speed bumps.’’

She said parking was also an issue: ‘‘We can have up to 40 students dropped off at a time, yet there are very few parking spaces. And because the spaces are not reserved for the preschool, neighbours often park in them,’’ she said.

Echuca’s Lloyd Sage Design Studio has donated its time to develop a concept design for a new preschool building, which the committee plans to eventually present to Murray River Council (MRC) for consideration.

‘‘Conversations with MRC have been very positive. They are well aware we’re at capacity and understand our need to expand,’’ Ms Blachford said.

Member for Murray Helen Dalton dropped into the preschool on Thursday to take a look at the ageing facilities: ‘‘I have a teaching background so I understand the importance of educating children from a young age, because these children are our future. While I can’t write every grant, I will support the preschool by contributing a letter of support and guiding them on where to go and what to do to receive a grant.’’