Program's popularity poses problem

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The popularity of a Port Moody preschool program is placing a strain on parents looking to reserve a space for next year.

"Some parents of preschoolers that are currently in the three-year-old morning class would like to have a guaranteed spot in the four-year-old morning class starting in September as opposed to our practice of having a guaranteed space and having to register in-person to secure a spot at the preferred time," general manager of community services Ron Higo stated in a report to council.

Parents of preschoolers graduating from the child recreation program offered at the Rocky Point Park service building and Glenayre Community Centre can register for next September's program on Feb. 5, two weeks before children new to the program.

Jeff McLelland told council Tuesday night that last year he lined up at 9 p.m. to register his three-year-old for the program the following morning.

"We were told a week ago that if we really want to make sure we get the same spot we will have likely have to line up again in -10, -5 temperatures next Tuesday evening," he said.

Coun. Gerry Nuttall said the registration process needs to be streamlined and parents shouldn't be forced to line up overnight. "There's got to be a better way than that."

Coun. Rick Glumac called for the establishment of a task force on preschool expansion.

"What this has revealed to us is there's a severe shortage of preschool spaces in our community," said Glumac.

While council unanimously supported the creation of a task force as well as guaranteeing a preferred time slot for parents of children currently enrolled in the program, Mayor Mike Clay and councillors Diana Dilworth and Rosemary Small expressed some reservations.

The mayor said people will line up for days to reserve a popular hall for a wedding on a certain date. "It's what you do if you want something."

Clay said if parents are to be guaranteed a spot in the program for two years, perhaps they should be asked to prepay for the two years so the city has certainty in its registration numbers.

"Is it fair that they have preferential treatment at all? That's not fairness, fairness can't have the word preferential in it, and that's what concerns me."


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