Opinion

Editorial — More school dialogue is needed

The school district’s suggestion that a Willoughby Middle School should be built on the 84 Avenue property it obtains from a controversial land swap needs considerably more study.

While the size of the site, servicing issues and proximity to a park make it a good location, the fact remains that it is far removed from many Willoughy homes. It is actually on the edge of Walnut Grove — only separated from that area by the freeway.

It is understandable that the district wants to build the middle school as soon as possible. The needs are obvious. But why isn’t the Township assisting the school district in obtaining more school sites? Much of Willoughby has yet to be developed,and there are plenty of possible sites available.

It is also curious that the province would give the district funds to build a school when no site has been clearly identified. The usual practice in capital programs has been to identify and buy a school site, and then ask for funds to build a school in it — not the other way around.

Parents in the area of R.C. Garnett Elementary are quite rightly questioning a middle school that is so far from their homes. Most of them live south of 72 Avenue and west of 202 Street, which is a considerable distance from the 84 Avenue location.

The school has yet to get funds for any additions, despite the fact that it is badly overcrowded and is home to many portable classrooms.

Parents and students feel ignored by the school district, and other parents from the Routley area who have seen their school site traded away feel ther same way.

The school district must drastically improve its communication with all parents in the Willoughby area — those in Routley, Garnett, central Willoughby and Yorkson. The district must also do a far better job of communicating with parents of young children who are not yet in the school system.

Willoughby’s school needs are nowhere close to being properly addressed, yet development in the area continues at the same breathless pace. Six-storey apartments along 208 Street are under construction, and the new Carvolth plan calls for buildings as high as 18 storeys along 200 Street.

Where are all the children from all these developments going to go to school? It remains an unanswered question.

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