Two weeks ago I sat in on a meeting of the town council where the charges for Kindergarten places were discussed at length.¬† Now the town administration has come up with new proposals that will be put to the next town council meeting for approval.
It is worth taking a moment to look at the demands that parents had made a few months ago when the topic first arose.¬† Many of them have been fulfilled, such as keeping the Siblingbonus in place and not reducing the quality or number of places available in the town.
They also wanted the increase to take place in several steps, which is what will now happen.¬† The increases will take effect on 1st August 2012, 1st February 2012 and 1st August 2013.¬† However they insisted that the increase should be “moderate”.¬† The question is: what is moderate?
At the town council meeting some parties were more direct, and announced the highest percentage that they considered to be reasonable.
In the end, however, some people will end up with a larger increase than many wanted.
But looking at how the new figures have been decided, it is interesting to see how they have been calculated, adding a level of transparency to how the town hall works.
For example, an hourly rate has been set for each type of childcare to act as a basis for the calculations.¬† The rate is based on what it actually costs the town to run the groups and takes into account the fact that hours in the afternoon actually costs more or less to run that those in the morning, depending on how old the children are.
It also reflects the fact that some Kindergartens and Horts stay open longer than others in the afternoon, benefiting working parents that way.¬† Until now, each childcare place that was considered to be “all day” was charged the same.
At the end of the day, the childcare places do not make a profit for the town.¬† In fact they are one of the biggest pieces of expenditure, so any saving that is made is referred to as “reducing the deficit” rather than as profit.
Compared to other towns in the area, Oberursel is still very much charging average fees, unless you include Bad Homburg in the comparison, where the Kindergarten places are free.¬† But at the other end of the scale is K√∂nigstein, where parents pay a higher percentage of the actual costs that it takes to run the Kindergarten.
In future parents in Oberursel will still only pay 1/4 of the running costs for a Kindergarten place and 1/3 of the costs for an after-school one (Hort).
And the H√§rtefallregelung for low-income families will be re-introduced as well.¬† Something that the parents’ committees – the Elternbeir√§te – apparently didn’t even ask for.