No promises from province on new Willoughby highschool

Victoria meeting was 'frank, candid and positive' says school trustee

Rob McFarlane

Rob McFarlane

There were no announcements and no promises for a new high school in Willoughby, but it was a worthwhile visit to Victoria on Tuesday by numerous Langley politicians and staff, said Langley Board of Education Trustee Rob McFarlane.

Township Mayor Jack Froese, several Township administrators, two school trustees and superintendent Suzanne Hoffman and other district staff met in the province’s capital on Tuesday for a meeting with Langley MLA Mary Polak, Aldergrove-Fort Langley MLA Rich Coleman and ministry of education staff to talk about the urgent need for a secondary school in the Willoughby slope.

“The meeting was frank, candid and positive. It’s clear they understand the need and they are committed to helping us find a solution,” said McFarlane at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.

But he said the ministry of education made it clear they still expect districts to contribute up to 50 per cent of the capital costs to build the school.

“We have a limited amount of resources, actually in the tune of $4 million to put towards building a high school. That’s not even close to 50 per cent,” said McFarlane.

McFarlane then made a motion asking staff to identify properties that could be sold to fund a high school. That motion was carried unanimously.

One trustee asked what if a district couldn’t come up with the 50 per cent.

“The ministry said it is looked at on a case by case,” said Hoffman.

A new high school would cost upwards of $40 million. At  that same meeting, acting secretary treasurer Brian Iseli said there was a ‘dramatic shift’ of students enrolling in Willoughby schools. According to the most recent enrolment numbers, an additional 1,000 students enrolled in Willoughby schools this school year.

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