Trustees contemplate middle school model for district

Three Langley neighbourhoods lack schools dedicated to students in Grades 6-8

Suzanne Hoffman

Suzanne Hoffman

Could Langley adopt a middle school model throughout District 35?

It’s a discussion the Langley School District wants to have with the community.

There are already four middle schools in the district, but at least three more schools could be converted.

At Tuesday’s board of education meeting, former superintendent Suzanne Hoffman, who sat on the committee looking into conversion to middle schools, said they are ready to take the idea to the schools’ staff, parent advisory committees (PACs) and the public.

“The committee has done a lot of work, so we need to know whether there is an appetite to move forward. This isn’t something that is happening overnight, this is a long-term plan.

“We believe in middle schools,” said Hoffman, who was hired by the Ministry of Education to roll out the new provincial curriculum.

There are three neighbourhoods where middle schools don’t yet exist, including the Brookswood, DW Poppy and Walnut Grove school communities.

But trustees were emphatic that the idea of adopting a middle school model throughout Langley first be brought to the public to gauge response, before talking about which schools would be converted.

When HD Stafford Secondary was converted to a middle school, the board and district were hit with a public outcry from that school community.

Now, Stafford Middle School is considered a success and trustee Shelley Colburn admitted she has been converted to the benefits of middle schools, after initially being opposed to the model.

Betty Gilbert Elementary was converted to a middle school, Langley Fundamental Middle school has existed for a number of years and Yorkson Creek Middle School was built a few years ago.

The purpose of middle schools is to be responsive to a time of significant changes for children aged 10 to 14. While studies show that students who attend middle schools don’t necessarily outperform academically those who do not attend them, middle schools provide more opportunity for exploration and for social and physical development, said a report from the district.

“The board has heard from parents, students, administration about the successes of middle schools so now the community can hear too,” said trustee Alison McVeigh.

The board voted to allow the committee to have information meetings in September detailing the plan for conversion to middle schools.