Opinion

School board facing a tough decision

Editor: It appears that the Board of School Trustees has some difficult decisions to make this Tuesday (Oct. 30) at the Christian Life Assembly auditorium.

It is considering changing H.D. Stafford into a middle school, Grades 6-8, or keep it as a regular graduating high school. It is also to make a decision to keep Murrayville school open or to close it, and consider other options based upon a report submitted by school board staff.

I certainly don’t envy trustees’ situation. I know how difficult it is for an elected official to be faced with making decisions that affect many people. However, they do have some options that they could consider:

r They could request that a Task Force made up of parents, students, educators, school board staff, and trustees sit down and look at other alternatives. This Task Force would have the ability to request whatever information required to help it evaluate population growth, future projections, educational programs and plans, and generally any other information needed to help it accomplish its goal. (I believe, although I do not have the specifics, that this process was used in the decision to close Aldergrove Elementary).

r They could request that the Ministry of  Education (as suggested by Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender) get involved in the process by means of a special superintendent or appropriate ministry staff member who deals with these types of predicaments.

r They could simply vote against the plan and start over by looking at options that would not turn H.D. Stafford into a middle school, and not close Murrayville Elementary.

 r They could hold off on the decision until the entire growth plan for the whole Langley School District is in place. I understand that the plan for North Langley has not been received, and that Willoughby growth is still being evaluated.

 Twenty years ago, when I was first elected to council, Langley Township was challenged with growth issues. I watched closely as  the planning departments of the school district and the Township (under the direction of the school board and Township council) addressed population demographics and future growth projections.

The result was that a variety of schools were built (plus school improvements and renovations), including secondary schools, along with an administration building. Many partnerships were negotiated that included parks, playing fields, libraries, and recreational facilities.

The decisions were made in co-operation with Langley residents and stakeholders. I believe that the results are positive and reflective of a truly livable community.

 Regardless of the report that will be submitted on Tuesday evening, the decision is entirely in the hands of the duly elected school trustees of Langley. I respect their position and hope that they will make the right decision.

 Councillor Steve Ferguson

(and family of five),

Fernridge

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