Some N.S. parents frustrated they’re frozen out of pre-primary for now

In real estate, they say it’s all about location and it seems that’s the case when it comes to pre-primary education in Nova Scotia as well.

Some parents are frustrated their kids are being left out of the province’s program when kids down the street are included.

Jayne Beaumont and Laura Gaskell work together in a family business.

Beaumont is a dental hygienist, while Gaskell is her part-time secretary.

While Gaskell works, her three-year-old son is at daycare.

“It’s like $380 month, just for two days a week,” Gaskell said.

The cost of daycare is adding up, so mother and daughter were excited that Lucas would be old enough for pre-primary in September — except his school isn’t offering it.

“I looked online and found out that they’re not getting it this year,” said Gaskell. “I was looking forward to maybe working more as well, and then saving money.”

Gaskell lives in the catchment area for Ian Forsyth School in Dartmouth, which does not have pre-primary this coming school year.

But just a few streets over, Admiral Westphal does.

Gaskell has already put Lucas on a waiting list.

Education Minister Zach Churchill says that since rolling out this program, the biggest challenge has been keeping up with demand.

“Finding the early childhood educators to staff the program, having the dollars to invest, a number of factors, force us to roll this out over four years,” Churchill said. “And at the end of the day, that means not everyone is going to be able to access this until year four comes around.”

He says the Department of Education tried to spread the program out around the province, based on need.

Now there are about 50 schools left where the program is yet to start.

“The school communities that are left to receive pre-primary are the ones where space is the biggest challenge.

Now, the department of education has several pilot programs across the province, looking at how to handle schools that might not have the space for a pre-primary program.

Churchill says the province is still on track to have every four-year-old in pre-primary education by the 2020 school year.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Emily Baron Cadloff.

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