Three nurseries are to close at Brighton schools from the end of the summer term – Queen’s Park, Middle Street and St Mark’s.
The schools are trying to redeploy staff where possible but at least two jobs are expected to go as a result of the closures.
Councillors formally agreed to lower the start of the age range from three to four years old at Queen’s Park and Middle Street this afternoon (Monday 19 June).
At St Mark’s, in Manor Road, the decision was made last month by the governors. They are responsible for the final decision, rather than the council, because it is a Church of England primary school.
The changes were discussed by the Brighton and Hove City Council Children, Young People and Skills Committee at Hove Town Hall this afternoon.
Councillor Caroline Penn said: “It’s very sad that it has come to this. There are considerable pressures on funding.”
She asked about nursery places elsewhere and was told that there were spaces available from September.
Councillor Les Hamilton said: “Those of us who are involved in governing bodies know that schools across the city are in serious financial trouble.”
He said that many of them were in deficit at the end of the past financial year and financial reserves had gone down.
He said: “Although it’s very regrettable, if the head teacher and the governing bodies feel they can no longer carry on with a nursery class – and they are the best placed to know – I will give them my support.”
Ray Willliams, who chairs the governors at Middle Street, told the meeting: “Numbers have gone down but staff costs have not.”
Without the proposed closure, he said, “the effect on our overall budget will be severe.”
The committee was reminded that almost 600 people had signed a petition protesting about the Queen’s Park nursery closing.
And, answering a public question from Zoe Milton, the children’s committee chairman, Councillor Dan Chapman, said that he had gone to the nursery himself. He was saddened to see it close but, with the number of children declining, it was too expensive to keep open.