A new elementary school is now in the works for Langley’s rapidly developing Willoughby neighbourhood.
On Wednesday, the province announced that — in co-operation with the Langley School District — it has purchased a parcel of land on 78 Avenue at 205 Street. The land is expected to become the site of a new K-5 elementary school on the Willoughby slope.
Currently, Langley is among the province’s fastest-growing school districts. With the population of the area is estimated to grow by over 300 per cent once it is fully developed, existing elementary schools in the area are experiencing significant enrolment pressures, a release from the provincial government states.
The province has provided $7.6 million to the Langley School District to buy 1.86 hectares (4.6 acres) of land, while the district is contributing $1.7 million toward the purchase.
The site acquisition and future school is ranked as the Langley School District’s number 1 expansion project priority.
District spokesperson Ken Hoff said while a new school has not yet been approved or announced for the neighbourhood, however it has been identified as a priority in the district’s long-term facilities plan.
If the application for a new school is approved, the process would take approximately two years from the time of the approval until its opening, said Hoff.
“As one of the few growing school districts in the province, Langley is in need of the learning spaces that will be provided by the Southwest Yorkson project,” said Rob McFarlane, chair of the Langley board of education.
“The board of education and district staff have worked hard to secure a site for a future possible additional elementary school in the Willoughby community, and it is exciting to see those plans begin to take shape with the acquisition of a property.”
“With the incredible growth in the area, we are pleased to be on the road to a new local elementary school for students in the region, and we are looking forward to providing more innovative learning opportunities in Willoughby,” said Langley School District Superintendent Gordon Stewart.
Currently, the Willoughby neighbourhood has five K-5 elementary schools feeding Yorkson Creek Middle school (grades 6-8), which in turn feeds R.E. Mountain Secondary school.
The new school would not replace the aging Willoughby Elementary, said Stewart, but would serve as a sixth elementary school in the expanding Willoughby neighbourhood.
A new Willoughby Slope Secondary school is under construction, and expected to open in the fall of 2019.
In all, the Langley School District has over 40 schools, about 18,000 students and employs more than 2,500 teachers, support staff and administrators.