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Willoughby high school is top priority for district

Among the school district’s priorities is a second storey for overcrowded R.C. Garnett Elementary. - Langley Times file photo
Among the school district’s priorities is a second storey for overcrowded R.C. Garnett Elementary.
— image credit: Langley Times file photo

Like a big wish list, the Langley Board of Education unanimously approved its five-year capital plan that asks for $83 million in Ministry of Education funding for several new schools and expansions of others.

On the top of the school district’s wish list is a $47 million new high school to serve the growing Willoughby slope area. R.C. Garnett Elementary PAC president Loraine Baldwin asked the board to locate the new secondary beside or near the Langley Events Centre. Later, several trustees agreed with Baldwin.

Trustee Cecilia Reekie asked that the board consult and communicate about the location of the school in the future. The building of a new high school will co-incide with changing Mountain Secondary into a middle school. That will mean two middle schools will exist in Willoughby.

The new high school will have a capacity for 1,100 students but could max out at 1,500. Baldwin asked if there was any way to increase the capacity after the ministry gets the report. She believes that the capacity might be a bit low for Willoughby, which is one of the top three growing regions in B.C.

The second priority is to build a new elementary school, at a cost of $12 million, on the James Anderson Learning Centre site and move the alternative school to another location.

The third priority is to build a second storey onto the overpopulated R.C. Garnett Elementary.

The $2.7 million expansion will help reduce the number of portables being used, but construction of a second storey will bring some challenges, warned secretary-treasurer David Green in his report.

The expansion will take place where some portables are currently sitting, so it isn’t known yet where those students will be placed.

The last priority is to plan for three new elementary and one secondary school sites.

Green reminded trustees that they are at the mercy of the ministry.

“The board should be aware that just because we prioritize these projects the way we do, the ministry may prioritize them differently,” said Green in his report. “Also we need to consider that all 60 school districts will submit capital plans.”

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