Valley digs deep
By EMMA CORNFORD
AS children at the Jacaranda Preschool at South Grafton climbed the wooden fort and dug holes in the sandpit last week, they had no idea that their place of play could have been closed forever.
But thanks of Clarence Valley Community Programs (CVCP), the Clarence Valley Council and an unknown benefactor, the preschool will remain open.
When it was revealed a few months ago that the Baptist Church, which owns Jacaranda Preschool, would have to sell the building, the management committee had to examine options.
"My biggest thing was maintaining the service for families, especially those families who have children with special needs," said preschool director Amanda Lancaster.
"There was a chance it could have closed ... but we tried to be positive so the parents wouldn't get too worried."
There are 91 families who utilise the services of the Jacaranda Preschool in Kelly Street, with 21 of the children classed as 'special needs' kids.
In a last-minute bid to keep the Jacaranda Preschool open the Department of Community Services, which held the licence for the preschool, contacted CVCP.
"We were only really involved very late in the picture and only had a few days to try and get together a way of doing it," said CVCP chair Heather Roland.
"(The preschool) has been going for 35 years and is a fantastic piece of community infrastructure, particularly for South Grafton, so we felt it was important to do all that we could."
CVCP found a person to lend the $190,000 to buy the building, but could not afford to meet the interest payments ? so it approached the council.
At the council meeting on Tuesday, councillors voted to donate $10,260 each year for the next three years to CVCP to cover the interest payments.
Mrs Roland said although Jacaranda Preschool would be under the auspice of CVCP, the running of the school would remain the same.
"Nothing is going to change. The building and the running will remain as they are," she said.
"We are also pleased because so many jobs will be saved and that's extremely important, especially because they're so committed," Mrs Roland said.
As a result, the families can continue to send children to the school, while the kids themselves can keep playing in peace.