THE future of an out of school hours care provider that has served Mayfield West Demonstration School for 31 years is uncertain.
WEMOOSH co-director Elizabeth Treadwell said she and her 16 staff were "blindsided" by news the government contract to provide care at the school would go to tender.
"We've all had a bit of a cry on more than one occasion," she said.
"It's been very difficult.
"It's been our life's work for the community of Mayfield.
"We're a not-for-profit run by parents."
President of WEMOOSH's parent management committee Felicity Williams said the provider had been locked in discussions with the government for a year about renewing its licence, which expired at the end of 2018.
It's been operating under a month-by-month holding over clause and endured a rollercoaster of changes, including the government twice changing its operator category, which affects licence fees. WEMOOSH believes it may also affect if a service goes to tender.
Ms Treadwell said she called School Infrastructure NSW in August and was told the licence would not be renewed and the service would go to tender. It was listed online on November 1.
She said WEMOOSH has still not received any documentation about its licence, the service going to tender, or the tender process.
Relieving principal Matt Bradley's September 26 letter to families was the first time WEMOOSH read the news in print.
Mum-of-two Nicole Cadogan said families "erupted".
"No-one knows where it came from," she said.
"There's been no communication or explanation and we're feeling a lot of frustration, annoyance and anger.
"The carers put their heart and soul into the place and this news is hurting everybody. They look after the kids and they look after us."
Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp asked the Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education - representing the Minister for Education - why the service was being put to tender and received an answer on September 12: "Out of hours school care at Mayfield West is being put to tender at the discretion of the school executive."
Ms Williams said Mr Bradley told families the tender process was "out of his hands".
The department said in a statement to the Newcastle Herald it was preparing to go to tender for the service "because the current provider's licence has expired".
"The expiration of this licence in January 2019 coincided with a departmental review of all OSHC policies and processes," the spokesperson said.
"During the review, which was conducted to ensure equity and fairness for all providers, all tenders were temporarily placed on hold. The state-wide review is now complete, the moratorium has been lifted... all providers are encouraged to tender for the service."
Ms Williams said families didn't know what to believe.
"It's not transparent why the decision was made to go to tender and who made it," Ms Williams said.
"We feel like we deserve to to know."
Ms Treadwell said WEMOOSH operated under a community user agreement until its licence started in 2014.
This stipulated the operator could only be on site 15 minutes before operating hours, but WEMOOSH received approval to be on site during the day for its administration work.
Ms Treadwell said she understood then acting principal Deb Kelly and the P&C sent letters to School Infrastructure NSW in October 2018 in support of WEMOOSH's licence renewal.
But she said Mr Bradley said at a meeting the following month he had concerns about the renewal and WEMOOSH accessing the building outside operating hours.
She said she presumed School Infrastructure NSW's advice that it would cost an extra $12,000 for exclusive use of the building would be included as a provision in the new licence. Instead she has had to hire separate premises for administration.
She said he was also concerned about WEMOOSH enclosing an outdoor verandah - which it did three years before with the approval of the then principal.
The department spokesperson said the enclosure was built "without the approval of the department", was found to "not meet the Building Code of Australia" and "significant improvements were necessary to make it safe".
Ms Treadwell said School Infrastructure NSW inspected the enclosure at the start of the year, as did a structural engineer at the end of term three.
She was told on the second last day of term "scheduled refurbishing" would take place in the holidays.
The enclosure was demolished and WEMOOSH now operates from a demountable.
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