Langley’s fast-growing Willoughby district will get two new schools, Premier Christy Clark announced Monday.
The commitment to build a new elementary school, a new middle school and to buy land to build one of the schools on is worth an estimated $50 million.
It was part of a $353-million capital plan for 19 projects that include new schools and expansion of some existing schools in communities with the fastest-growing student populations.
The premier announced it while standing in front of a group of children at Surrey’s Hazelgrove Elementary school.
“There are school districts in our province that have experienced tremendous student enrolment growth in recent years, and are in need of funds to expand current schools or build new ones,” Clark said.
“That’s why we are taking action today.”
Langley district school trustees were on hand for the announcement.
Board of Education Chair Stacey Cody said the Langley announcement was the result of five years of lobbying by the district.
“It’s going to be more than what we had hoped for, more than what we ever could have imagined,” Cody told The Times.
Langley Superintendent of Schools Cheryle Beaumont called the announcement “a really, really important day for Langley. “We’ve worked hard for it.”
It was not immediately clear if one of the new schools will be built on land acquired in the controversial land swap that called for a school site in Langley’s Routley neighbourhood to become a park, while adjacent parkland would become a townhouse development. This is in return for property in the Yorkson neighbourhood of Willoughby.
Langley Teachers’ Association president Gail Chaddock-Costello was pleasantly surprised to hear the province would fund two new schools when rumour had it the district was in line for only one, a middle school.
Chaddock-Costello called the decision “really progressive” and described the new schools as “absolutely essential.”
Langley MLA Mary Polak said the two new schools are “desperately needed” and gave the Langley school district credit for working with the province to get the schools funded.
Rich Coleman, MLA for Fort Langley – Aldergrove, called it “very welcome news.”
The province estimates the projects will create an estimated 1,850 jobs.
They include six new elementary schools, one new middle school, two new secondary schools, four school additions, and the purchase of six school sites.