Kindergartens to cast votes on future in national body

Dunedin Kindergartens will vote on breaking away from the national body as the fallout from a chaotic meeting rolls on.

At the end of last month Dunedin Kindergartens (DK), committee members, teachers and parents met at the association’s annual meeting where it was announced New Zealand Kindergartens (NZK) was stepping in immediately to assist in day-to-day governance as part of a one-year pilot.

However, since then more than half the city’s kindergarten committees have requested an extraordinary meeting where members will vote whether to split from NZK entirely.

The meeting is set to be held on June 13.

It comes after angry parents from 24 Dunedin kindergartens expressed outrage and what they labelled a "guerrilla-style takeover" when it was announced at the April 29 annual meeting that board elections for DK would be suspended for a year and NZK was stepping in.

The parents were worried a loss of control over kindergartens could lead to fee increases and closures.

A committee president for a Dunedin kindergarten, who did not want to be named, said enough support for the EGM had been drummed up, and they were hopeful change could be pushed through.

"We want an AGM where the process of an AGM is actually followed and board members are able to be elected and nominated — we want the process to actually be followed, which did not occur last time."

NZK Network chief executive Jill Bond, of Wellington, said if the vote was successful, DK was required to give NZK 18 months’ notice before the split and was still required to pay association membership levies.

"The current DK Constitution is clear about the requirements of an EGM, these requirements have been met and the DK board is following the necessary process to host an EGM which is the correct thing to do."

More than half of committees were required to agree before an extraordinary meeting was held.

NZK was helping the DK board host the meeting as part of its agreement to assist with day-to-day governance.

The DK board released a letter stating they encouraged all members and kindergarten committees to discuss the remit and consider the implications of a successful vote.

"Our association ceased NZK membership once before and this meant that we had no access to information, support, or advocacy, nor did we have any ability to influence government, policy changes, or the terms and conditions of employment for our teachers," the committee president said.

They were worried about waiting 18 months before splitting with NZK in the event the vote passed.

"That’s 18 months of such uncertainty. Can they change much in that time? What will it actually mean for the changes they are proposing?

"Who knows what it would look like and how the next 18 months would play out?"