Letter: Convert vacant building into another middle school for Willougby

Editor: This is a notice to all parents of Langley Meadows students concerned with overcrowding at Yorkson Creek Middle School;

I have four children attending, or soon to attend, Langley Meadows Elementary.

As a parent concerned with overcrowding issues developing at Yorkson Creek Middle School and R.E. Mountain Secondary and the catchment elementary schools, I have attended several community meetings held by the school district to address these concerns.

Here are the facts:

• Students in the Langley Meadows catchment area attend Langley Meadows Community School until the end of Grade 5, then Yorkson Creek Middle School for Grades 6, 7 and 8, and then R.E. Mountain Secondary for Grades 9 though 12;

• Yorkson Creek MS is only about to enter its third year of operation, and is already running above capacity by several hundred students;

• Overcrowding at Yorkson Creek MS is projected to intensify over the coming years, and according to the school district’s own projections, will reach approximately double its intended capacity within the next four to five years;

• The school district’s temporary plan to address these overcrowding issues is to add three portables to Yorkson Creek each year until such time as a new high school can be constructed, meaning that within the next few years, YCMS students will be attending classes in portables located on the Township parks land next door;

• Yorkson Creek MS is located more than five km from Langley Meadows, and a continuous network of sidewalks or pathways running from one school to the other does not exist, meaning that even if students in Langley Meadows do want to spend more than the hour it would take to bike or walk to their middle school, it is not possible for them to do so safely.

Students must either be driven to and from school, or parents must pay the $250 per year fee to send students via school bus;

• There is a school sitting vacant just four blocks east of Langley Meadows — James Anderson. It was used previously as a learning annex for high school students, but has been closed and sitting empty for the last few years.

It is old and small, but still structurally sound and is currently being considered by the school district for use as some kind of satellite school to R.C. Garnett, or centre for day care or community programs.

I am proposing that the school district consider converting James Anderson into some kind of middle school space for Langley Meadows students.

Such a course of action would solve two problems. It would ease the overcrowding at Yorkson Creek MS and provide Langley Meadows students in Grades 6, 7 and 8 the opportunity to attend a school they could actual walk to, which is better for our environment, and our children’s health.

When my nine-year-old daughter found out just how far away she’d have to go to attend middle school, she was crushed.

I promised her I would do everything within my power to get the school district to provide a better solution, and I need your help.

Please e-mail the school district as soon as you can, at feedback@sd35.bc.ca and ask them to convert James Anderson into a middle school space for Langley Meadows.

They are all wonderful people and are working really hard to make a Langley a great place for our children to grow.

Wendy Sjodin,

Langley

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