The Langley School District plans to do a lot of conversing with local residents as it decides what to do with schools that aren't full and ones that are overly full.
"Enrolment will grow but it will not be evenly distributed," noted Trustee Alison McVeigh. "We cannot expect things to stay the same because the community is not the same as it was five, 10, 15 or 20 years ago."
The district's new long-term facilities plan was released at a special board meeting Oct. 9.
Among the recommendations are to look at new sites for Willoughby Elementary because 208th Street is being widened and the building is aging, and for the aging Glenwood Elementary in South Langley.
Chair Wendy Johnson said the district can't do planning about the Brookswood/Fernridge area until the Township finalizes its development plans for that area. Then decisions can be made about Glenwood.
Langley Secondary is another aging facility the district must address in the coming few years, the report said.
As well the district plans to dig deeper into middle schools. H.D. Stafford and Betty Gilbert were converted to middle schools but Johnson said the district must decide whether it wants middle schools throughout Langley.
The district will also be looking at what to do with closed schools and unused sites (Murrayville, Bradshaw and County Line Elementaries, as well as the Route 32 site on 32nd Avenue in Brookswood).
The areas that are experiencing growth in enrolment are a top priority, according to Johnson.
Willoughby should be entirely built out over the next two decades. Based on projections, the area could need a total of 11 elementary schools, four middle schools and two secondary schools, the facilities plan noted.
Out of the consultations that were part of creating the facilities plan came the suggestion of turning R.E. Mountain Secondary into a middle school when a new secondary school is built and to build another elementary school on the site of the James Anderson Learning Centre which would relocate.
"It's really got some profound choices for us for the future," commented Trustee Rod Ross.
The Ministry of Education mandates that districts do a facilities plan but never pushed when Langley didn't do one. The auditor general recommended a plan when it reviewed district finances.
For this first plan, the district used consultant Hugh Skinner.
There were six public meetings around the district and sessions with various partner groups.
"According to our consultant, this is the most extensive consultation process he's ever been a part of," Johnson noted.
Johnson noted that the plan includes broad statements about the district's future with the specifics worked out in the years to come, and that there would be extensive public consultation before any big decisions.
The district is looking at doing the plan over the next several years, based on priorities.
"It's not possible to launch all of these at the same time," she said.
The facilities report was approved by the board and is on the school district website.