Hong Kong kindergarten to close after talks with landlord fall through
Parents left scrambling to find alternative places for 150 pupils as popular school says it has no choice but to shut its doors
Around 150 pupils will have to find a new school after a kindergarten in Ap Lei Chau announced its closure at the end of the school year following a month of futile talks with the landlord.
Good Health Anglo-Chinese Kindergarten (Ap Lei Chau) and Good Health International Pre-school (Ap Lei Chau) in South Horizons alerted parents in early February of a potential closure as rental negotiations with Hutchison Estate Agents had stalled. Its contract ends on July 31.
In a letter to parents on Thursday, the kindergarten said it would close on August 1 as Hutchison had indicated it would not adjust the rental period it was offering, which the school said was “overly short”.
Coupled with pupils leaving the school, Good Health said it was unable to continue operations.
Details of the terms of the contract and sticking points during the negotiations were not made known to parents.
The school added it had no choice but to announce the closure to ensure parents had time to find new schools. One option was to enrol children at two other schools under the group, in Ma On Shan and Tsing Yi.
A Hutchison spokeswoman said the company had been discussing new contract proposals with the school for the past few weeks and had always adopted an open mind. Hutchison expressed regret at the sudden announcement of the closure, she added.
Good Health said that if parents opted for a kindergarten on Hong Kong Island, it would refund their HK$970 deposits before the end of May.
Simon Lee, the parent of a K2 pupil, said he was disappointed with the turn of events.
“It is already March and the second round of interviews for kindergartens has ended. While we already have two schools lined up for our child as a back-up plan, we would have preferred to have our child stay in Good Health in Ap Lei Chau due to its proximity and history,” he said.
The school is considered a more affordable option in South Horizons, offering 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.
Lawmaker Hui Chi-fung slammed Hutchison for caring only about profits and neglecting its corporate social responsibility. He also criticised them for not sorting out the matter earlier.
“A changing school environment could impact children and affect their learning,” he said.
Hui said most parents he had spoken to said they were unlikely to move to the Ma On Shan and Tsing Yi schools as they were too far away.
An Education Bureau spokeswoman said preliminary figures showed there were still sufficient places at other schools in Southern district to meet demand.
She added the bureau would continue to maintain close contact with the school, offer advice and support, and provide parents with the necessary assistance. This included uploading information on kindergarten places in Southern district on the bureau’s website.
Southern district councillors had said shop rents in the area had been going up since the opening of the South Island Line and they were worried this trend might continue in the future.