Developer hints it may negotiate rent with Hong Kong kindergarten as parents left scrambling for places

Good Health Anglo-Chinese Kindergarten told parents its contract with Hutchison Estate Agents would end on July 31

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 February, 2017, 9:30pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 February, 2017, 11:57am

A developer that stalled rental talks with a Southern district kindergarten has indicated it may be willing to delay its plans and enter negotiations with the school.

Good Health Anglo-Chinese Kindergarten in Ap Lei Chau told parents a few days ago in a notice that its contract with Hutchison Estate Agents would end on July 31, adding that it had tried to discuss matters relating to recontracting with the landlord since May last year but to no avail.

Upon learning about the glimmer of hope offered by the developer at a meeting with the school on Wednesday night, parents said they were “overjoyed”, adding that the kindergarten told them it would be discussing rental matters with Hutchison next week.

“A lot of mothers were crying during the meeting with the school as we talked about our children’s affection for Good Health,” said a mother who wished to be known by her surname Leung.

“No one knows for sure whether the school can continue to be around, but we really hope this is the case,” she added.

After the kindergarten issued the notice on the school’s potential move or closure on Monday, dozens of parents were left scrambling for a new place for their children.

“The next school year begins in September and it is difficult to find a suitable kindergarten for our children,” said ­Simon Lee, a parent of a K2 pupil, adding its location and quality of education was why he chose the school in South Horizons.

The Democratic Party said it had received around 20 calls for assistance, while an Education Bureau spokeswoman said it had received 12 enquiries. She also noted preliminary figures showed there were sufficient vacancies at ­kindergartens in the district to meet demand caused by the potential closure.

But parents said there were other factors to consider.

One parent, who has a son in K2, said she picked the kindergarten for the school’s reputation and reasonable fees compared with others in the area.

The school offers half-day classes at HK$45,738 a year, compared with between HK$71,920 and HK$104,000 for Victoria (South Horizons) International Kindergarten, Rightmind Kindergarten and The International Montessori School – three other schools within the development.

None of the four schools will be participating in the free quality kindergarten education scheme next year.

Lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung said Secretary of Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim told him the bureau has approached Hutchison, hoping it would address the matter as soon as possible.

He also expressed concern that Hutchison would increase the rent by a lot should it agree to extending its lease to the school with around 140 students as the costs would trickle down to the parents.

Tsui Yuen-wa, a Southern district councillor, said shop rents in the area has been going up since the opening of the South Island Line and was worried this trend may continue in the future.