Changes are coming to Willoughby elementary school catchments in the next two years, as the Langley School District attempts to alleviate enrolment pressures.
In a report presented to the board of education on Feb. 23, staff are projecting “fairly stable enrolments” in all but one Willoughby slope school: Richard Bulpitt.
A rapid increase in students from 456 this year to (an anticipated) nearly 1,200 by 2026 makes catchment changes necessary.
Although the final recommendation on new boundaries will not be made until June, a draft plan was discussed last Tuesday night.
If approved, the new boundaries will take effect in September, 2017 and will keep the current grade configurations of K-5, 6-8 and 9-12.
The biggest change is in the catchment area for Richard Bulpitt, which reduces dramatically in size to encompass 208 Street on the west, 80 Avenue on the north, 216 Street on the east and 74B Avenue on the south.
Lynn Fripps and Willoughby Elementary will accommodate the areas previously in the Richard Bulpitt catchment. R.C. Garnett will also grow in size, and Langley Meadows will decrease.
These changes will put enrolment numbers for Langley Meadows, Lynn Fripps and RC Garnett in the mid 400s for the next 10 years, while removing pressure in other areas. There is also a proposal to potentially use the six classrooms and portable space at James Anderson Learning Centre at 20381 66 Ave. as an annex for RC Garnett for three years.
Ultimately, the board is hoping for approval from the provincial government to purchase additional land for a new elementary school in north Willoughby.
Willoughby elementary school catchments are set to change in September, 2017. The map on the left shows current school catchments, while the map on the right shows the proposed changes. The yellow portion represents Willoughby Elementary, green is Lynn Fripps, pink is Richard Bulpitt, orange is RC Garnett and blue is Langley Meadows.
Superintendent Suzanne Hoffman says creating the new boundaries has been a difficult and complicated process, but “the lines inevitably had to be drawn.”
Staff used a combination of projection programs, local knowledge — and even drove through the community — to come up with the new areas.
Beyond the elementary schools, there are also still major issues with Yorkson Creek Middle School and R.E. Mountain Secondary School.
Yorkson Creek will require three additional portables in 2017/18, but there is no space left on the school property for them. They may need to use Township land, or the school’s parking lot.
And R.E. Mountain — which already has 16 portables — will need two or three more in 2017/18. The school is currently using both gyms at the Langley Events Centre Field House every day, and could be seeking future classroom space there as well.
Trustee Megan Dykeman commented that staff should investigate other options, like modular schools, which are used in the United States and Alberta.
“The kids shouldn’t be caught in the middle of a pingpong game — it’s ridiculous,” she said.
Trustee Rod Ross asked if neighbourhood learning centres, which are flex spaces often used for after school care, could be removed to make more classroom space.
And Trustee David Tod noted that the James Anderson building, which has been vacant since 2014, may not be seismically safe.
The next step is for school district staff to plan consultation meetings with parents and teachers at the affected schools. Preliminary feedback has shown that parents are eager for a grandfathering program that will keep students together with their siblings and friends.
Members of the public are invited to provide feedback to the district by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.