Parents vow to fight for longer kindergarten hours

Parents say the city's announcement that it would charge an extra NIS 100 per month to extend kindergarten hours made many parents oppose the idea.

A group of Kfar Saba parents has vowed to fight the municipality's decision not to extend the hours of long-day kindergartens from 4 to 5 p.m., and is accusing the city of "playing dirty" in the way it went about making the decision, reports The parents say the city's announcement that it would charge an extra NIS 100 per month to extend kindergarten hours made many parents oppose the idea, when in fact if there were no extra charge they would welcome it. According to the report, the municipality polled 970 Kfar Saba parents on the question of whether they would like to see kindergarten hours extended. Only 340 voted in favor of the idea and almost two-thirds of the parents opposed it, and the city announced that the plan would be shelved. But a group of parents formed an action committee to fight the issue, stating that most parents were in fact in favor of longer hours, but had only voted against the idea because the city had announced it would charge them NIS 100 each extra per month for it. The parents said that Kfar Saba, which charges about NIS 1,000 per month for its long-day kindergartens, already has the highest rates in the Sharon area, with other cities charging NIS 700 to 900 for days that already extend to 4:30 or 5 p.m. "Parents are very interested in extending the hours of long-day kindergartens from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the city tried to play a dirty trick on us," an action committee spokeswoman said, adding that parents should not have to pay any extra fees for the longer hours. The spokeswoman said the committee had begun circulating a petition which has already collected hundreds of signatures to try to force the city to bend. No response was reported from the municipality. Meanwhile, parents in the southern part of Ra'anana are complaining that there are insufficient kindergartens for three-year-olds in their area, forcing them to enroll their children in private kindergartens for double the price, reports the Hebrew weekly Ha'ir Ra'anana. The parents say there are only three "trom-trom-hova" kindergartens in the area south of the main street, Rehov Ahuza, providing places for only 76 percent of the three-year-olds who need them. According to the report, the parents say the city has a responsibility to provide enough kindergartens for everyone, and it has been "neglectful" in not doing so in their area. They say that while a municipal kindergarten costs about NIS 800 per month, a private kindergarten can cost NIS 2,000 and parents should not be forced to pay such sums because of a lack of options. "No parent should be left without a solution," said one father living in the area. A municipal spokesman responded that the city had opened four new kindergartens for three-year-olds this year, bringing the total number of such kindergartens around the city to 19. The spokesman said the city was continuing to try to find solutions for all parents wanting to enroll their children in municipal kindergartens.