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It's official: RC Garnett Elementary will be a K to 5 school

It's a done deal and a lot of RC Garnett Elementary parents are devastated.

In a letter to parents sent out on Friday, the Langley School District said it is proceeding with the reconfiguration of RC Garnett from a K-7 to a K-5 school, effective September 2012.

Next school year, Grade 6s and 7s will be attending the new Lynn Fripps Elementary, which is located a bus ride away at 83 Avenue, just east of 208 Street in Yorkson.

"A lot of us were in tears. We are greatly disappointed by the school district and its disregard for our school community," said RC Garnett PAC co-chair  Lorraine Baldwin. "We are disappointed with its further disregard for the middle school  which is once again not meeting the needs of our children."

The letter, signed by acting superintendent Suzanne Hoffman reads: the district . . . have apprecaited all ofthe infput provided and have not arrived at this decision easily . . . a team will be established to facilitate . . .a transition plan."

The middle school is going ahead at the Yorkson site at 208 Street and 84 Avenue, confirmed Langley Board of Education chair Wendy Johnson. The location of the school at 84 Avenue was decided a couple weeks ago with the agreement of the Routley land exchange.

The district owns a five-acre parcel of land in Jericho, at 206 Street and 68 Avenue. That was the location preferred by many at RC Garnett.

"The Ministry of Education has told us that Willoughy is the fastest growing area in B.C. - on par with Surrey," said Johnson.

She said that parents will have a chance to look at and comment on long term plans for schools on the Willoughby slope through their long term facilities plan being created.

The school district is planning to meet with the parents and staff on Monday to go over the reconfiguraiton. The district already met with the RC Garnett PAC on Friday.

Some kids will be going to four schools in four years, pointed out Baldwin.

Some students will go from RC Garnett, to Lynn Fripps for Grade 6 and 7 and then to the new middle school for grade 8 and 9 before going to Mountain Secondary.

"A lot of us bought in this specific neighbourhood so our kids could walk to school," said Baldwin. Now kids on the Willoughby slope will be bused to the various schools.

The Yorkson site on 84 Avenue already has municipal infrastructure in place, will be located next to the Township’s planned 70 to 75 acre Yorkson Community Park and would allow for a faster construction period. Using that site, it would be possible to have a middle school operating by September, 2014, said Johnson.

The location of another elementary school in Willoughby is expected early next week, said Johnson.

More to come on this topic as the story develops.

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