Richard Bulpitt Elementary school in Willoughby is one of several schools feeling the effects of the neighbourhood’s rapidly expanding population.

New catchments approved for crowded Willoughby neighbourhood

Boundary changes will take effect at beginning of 2017-18 school year

School catchment changes are coming to the Willoughby slope as part of an effort to address overcrowding in Langley’s fastest-growing neighbourhood.

The Board of Education approved the catchment changes for Willoughby elementary schools at its last meeting of the year, Tuesday evening.

The new boundaries won’t take effect until the 2017-2018 school year.

The hope is that it will mitigate overcrowding during a time when Willoughby is seeing increases in enrollment, year after year.

It was last year that the board asked staff to redraw the catchments to address enrollment pressures.

Former superintendent of schools Suzanne Hoffman made the presentation to the board on Tuesday.

Hoffman, who has been hired by the Ministry of Education to work on the new B.C. curriculum, headed public consultation and redrawing of catchment areas.

The public was consulted throughout the process, with changes made to address their concerns.

During the process, parents expressed concern that siblings may not be able to stay together at Richard Bulpitt Elementary, Langley’s fastest growing school.

On Tuesday, Hoffman said siblings will be grandfathered and family members will be able to remain at the same school.

In order to accommodate this, four new portables will be added to Richard Bulpitt.

There was also concern that the neighbourhood centre in that school, which houses a daycare and before- and after-school care, would have to be closed to make way for more classroom space. Hoffman said the neighbourhood centre will remain in place.

Early in the process, the district considered using the currently empty James Anderson school site as an overflow for R.C. Garnett students. The idea was not well received by parents.

“We won’t use James Anderson.

With families staying together at Bulpitt we hopefully will mitigate R.C. Garnett’s overcrowding,” said Hoffman.

“With R.C. Garnett, we are doing the best we can.”

Prior to Hoffman’s presentation, members of the R.C. Garnett PAC pleaded with trustees to help with the stress that overcrowding has placed on that school. They were asking that students be allowed to use the playground equipment offered at the Township park next door.

“Currently, K-2 students are only allowed to use the playground three times a week and Grades 2 to 5 only get to use the playground twice a week,” said PAC VP Julia Ng.

“We’ve been told we can’t bring in more playground equipment because there is no room.”

She noted that there are 200 more students attending that school than the facility was built to accommodate, with many portables on site.

Reworking the catchment changes has taken more than a year, and has included meetings with PACs, school staff, public consultations and reviewing feedback — even driving the roads where the boundaries are, said Hoffman.

While parents expressed deep concern with the overcrowding of Willoughby schools, there wasn’t any opposition to the catchment changes, she said.

“The consultation process has come a long way since you arrived here, Suzanne,” said board chair Rob McFarlane.

Trustee Rod Ross was pleased with the work done, remarking that he didn’t hear from any parents about the new boundaries. But Hoffman cautioned that not all is rosy in Willoughby.

“Parents are very concerned about overcrowding — that was made clear,” she said.

Willoughby is only half built-out, with many more students and early learners expected to move into the area in the coming years. Mountain Secondary is bursting with 16 portables, and more needed.

The district’s number one priority is to have a high school built on the Willoughby slope.

Another priority of the district in its long-term facility plan is to expand R.C. Garnett.

The new catchments can be viewed online at  www.sd35.bc.ca. Click on the events calendar and select “consultations.”

Just Posted

Mom delivers plastic mats to Langley’s homeless

Jenifer Kosman fashions sleeping mats from plastic grocery bags

Fraser Health asking taxpayers for millions more in health care capital funding

Health authority wants Fraser Valley taxpayers to triple annual contribution to $5.75 million

UPDATE: Man in mid-20s killed in targeted shooting in Abbotsford

Location of shooting the same as where innocent bystander Ping Shun Ao killed in 2015

Giants fall in six-round shootout

Visiting Victoria squad beats Vancouver 4-3 at Langley Events Centre

GALLERY: Giants host Royals in WHL action

Photos from the Vancouver Giants clash with the Victoria Royals at the Langley Events Centre

UPDATED: SUV fire at Langley mall (with video)

Firefighters respond to Fraser Highway incident

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Snow warning in effect for the Coquihalla

A snowfall warning is in effect from Hope to Merritt as slush and snow is expected on highways this weekend

Vancouver hoping free public Wi-Fi expansion will drive tourism dollars

Mayor Gregor Robertson says expansion bolsters its “leading Smart City” status

Women’s movement has come a long way since march on Washington: Activists

Vancouver one of several cities hosting event on anniversary of historic Women’s March on Washington

Liberals’ 2-year infrastructure plan set to take 5: documents

Government says 793 projects totalling $1.8 billion in federal funds have been granted extensions

Workers shouldn’t be used as ‘pawns’ in minimum wage fight: Wynne

Comments from Kathleen Wynne after demonstrators rallied outside Tim Hortons locations across Canada

John ‘Chick’ Webster, believed to be oldest living former NHL player, dies

Webster died Thursday at his home in Mattawa, Ont., where he had resided since 1969

World’s fastest log car made in B.C. sells for $350,000 US

Cedar Rocket auctioned off three times at Barrett-Jackson Co., netting $350,000 US for veterans

Most Read