Editorial — School capital plan focuses on the future
Langley Board of Education has taken a good step in the right direction with a five-year capital plan that focuses on Willoughby.
The Willoughby area will be the home to the school district’s greatest growth and most numerous challenges in coming years. The population growth of the area was ignored, from a school planning point of view, for too long — at least partially because the provincial government wasn’t giving out funds for school capital projects. This led to severe overcrowding in some schools and a range of challenges in others.
The current Liberal government under Premier Christy Clark has been more open to meeting needs in fast-growing areas, and is to be commended for doing so. The board is following up on this with the most aggressive approach to capital projects seen in Langley schools in many years.
It wants to see a new high school in Willoughby, and have Mountain Secondary converted to a middle school. While this could make sense, given the current size of Mountain. it was pointed out at a recent board meeting that a new high school needs to be very close to Langley Events Centre, in order to take advantage of the superb gym facilities there that were partially paid for by the school district.
The plan calls for three new elementary schools in Willoughby, including one on the site of the James Anderson Learning Centre on 66 Avenue. The fact that this facility has not been used as an elementary school in recent years is puzzling, given that Langley School District has a surplus of space in other areas. A new elementary school there makes a great deal of sense, as does an addition on R.C. Garnett Elementary.
The plan calls for replacement of Willoughby Elementary because of its location at the very busy intersection of 80 Avenue and 208 Street. This plea may fall on deaf ears in Victoria, as the province has historically been reluctant to close down newer schools simply because of where they are located. There are many elementary schools on extremely busy streets all across the Lower Mainland.
The plan also calls for eventual replacement of Langley Secondary and Glenwood Elementary by new facilities. Both are older facilities, although LSS has excellent features that would be hard to duplicate Its proximity to McLeod Athletic Park is also a major asset.
The new plan is ambitious but necessary in preparing for the future.