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Preschools to privatize to avoid budget axe

Date Posted: 2008-11-06

Plans to convert preschools operated by municipalities to private schools are meeting opposition from parents, but government officials are pleading public funding simply isn’t available to keep the preschools open.

Lower municipal revenues and loss of central government subsidies have led to budget shortfalls, leaving cities, towns and villages scrambling for funds to meet budgets and payrolls. Preschools have been tapped as one funded-entity that can be switched to private operation with limited impact on communities, but parents and civic leaders aren’t pleased with the prospects.

Yagibaru Preschool in Kitanakagusuku Village is one school being switched to private operation, and preschool parents have met with village officials to complain. “It’s wrong,” said one. “What about our children. We can’t accept service going down because of privatization.” Others urged village leaders “to think about children more carefully, what is best for them.”

The leader of the Kishaba area’s preschool parents association charges “we didn’t know about our preschool going private until last month, and we have to think about the merits and demerits of the action.” Choko Yara says parents “need to get more information about privatization,” asking “why other villages have withdrawn plans to go private?”

Village officials say another school has been exempted from the privatization move, saying “they have more budget, and 3,000 parents were against privatization.” The official said “these opposition parents asked the Town Office to give more thought to the privatization idea.” Kitanakagusuku Village says preschools can be operated by the Social Welfare Department, noting such a move can save the community budget ¥40 million per school year, per school.

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