Willoughby a top priority for new school construction

Board of education would like new high school, two school sites and an addition to R.C. Garnett Elementary.

Langley School District is expecting to hear from the Ministry of Education this month on whether there will be new  funding for schools needed in Willoughby.

The district submitted the plan which includes requests for a new high school, acquisition of property to build two more elementary schools in Willoughby, while also renovating perenially-full R.C. Garnett Elementary by putting on a second floor.

The district will also be looking at expressions of interest from developers who would like to be involved in the relocation of Willoughby Elementary, according to the Joint School District Liaison committee report from October 2013.

At last Tuesday’s board of education meeting, chair Wendy Johnson said they are still advocating hard for new ministry funding for the Willoughby area.

“We met with MLA Rich Coleman and [Langley MLA] Mary Polak on Friday to advocate the needs in the Willoughby area,” said Johnson. Township Mayor Jack Froese and acting City mayor Ted Schaffer were also there to provide support of this need, she said.

Residents on the Willoughby slope have been calling for a new high school to be built as growth continues in the area. The new middle school is set to open in September. Many believe it will be at or over capacity when it opens.

In the meantime, seismic upgrades for Langley Secondary have been approved but there is concern of what usefulness it will have, considering the older facility has many operating systems that can’t be upgraded. The cost to do the seismic upgrades is more than half the cost of building a new school, said the committee report.