Routley parents march for school

A walk by parents to protest the relocation of a planned school in the Routley neighborhood of Langley didn’t draw the turnout organizers hoped for.

A total of 21 participants including school-age children and one baby in a stroller showed up for the 45-minute early-morning hike to Willoughby Elementary School.

It was a disappointing response for parents who sent invitations to 1,200 people, including other parents, local politicians and school district staff.

Parent Rena Terry said the absence of elected officials or staff demonstrated an “absolute lack of concern for our children.”

The parents oppose a land swap that would see the Routley school site traded for land in the distant Yorkson neighborhood. The deal would give the district another school site in  rapidly-growing Yorkson and the Routley site would become a townhouse project with a public park attached.

The walk was a response to district claims that even without their own school, Routley children are still reasonably close to classes, based on provincial education ministry guidelines that set the maximum allowable distance at just over three kilometres.

The Routley parents say the walk for their kids is a hazardous one, because it crosses some of the busiest and most accident-prone intersections in Langley, including the congested 200 Street arterial.

“Safety is a major, major issue for us,” Terry said.

“We really do need a school in our neighbourhood.”

The parents also disagree with the district claim that  Routley would not qualify for a school of its own because it doesn’t have enough children.

They say district numbers don’t include kindergarten kids or school-age children who live in Routley but can’t attend local schools for lack of space.

The participants included Grade 6 student Sherry Tung, who won an apology from school board chairperson Wendy Johnson during a May discussion of the contentious land swap.

When Tung said she was sometimes late for classes because her school is so far away from her home, Johnson suggested the 12-year-old should organize her family better so they get up earlier, a comment that drew jeers from some in the audience.

Johnson quickly apologized to Tung, saying she was only trying to lighten the mood.

On Tuesday morning, Tung and her parents got up an hour earlier than usual to attend the walk.

A small group of Routley parents staged an early morning walk to school on Tuesday to demonstrate the impact of the Langley school district’s decision to cancel a planned school in their neighborhood in favour of another site a long distance away. The trip across 200 Street to Willoughby Elementary took about an hour.

Dan FERGUSON/Langley Times

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Community Events, March 2017

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