Letters: Langley Schools await business case

Dear Editor,

As the elected MLA for the Willoughby area who has also advocated strongly for a new high school in the community, I would like to comment on your article regarding the announcement made by our Ministry of Education, confirming there are no funds available for the project this year [No money for new Langley schools, Oct. 2, Langley Advance].

Funding will be available in the future, once a proper business case can be made and is not dependent on  any prescribed formula or contribution.

While Provincial funding is a significant component of any new school construction, the business case includes an assessment of the school district ability to contribute, given its financial and overall asset base.

School districts are important stewards of public assets, and a close and detailed examination of their entire asset base is an important part of this business case as we look at funding options.

There are additional and significant conditions that must be met before we can move forward, including site location and land, decisions surrounding multiple items affecting other schools, seismic upgrade considerations, and student populations.

For the past months, I have worked extensively with both the Langley School Board and the Township of Langley on plans for a new high school in Willoughby. Although site details including location and registrant boundaries remain unspecified, the project is very much active.

Multiple solutions have been offered and discussed over these last months, and I understand the Langley School Board is currently exploring these options.

Most recently, the Ministry of Education was asked to work with the Langley School Board in an effort to expedite this analysis, ensuring future sustainability as the community grows, while considering affordability.

For the past 18 years, as the MLA for Fort Langley-Aldergrove, I have continuously worked to ensure funds and solutions are found for Langley’s schools. Whether the Betty Gilbert school in the 1990’s, the expansion of Walnut Grove Secondary, the two elementary and one middle school on the slope, or the numerous other education projects, I will continue to work for what is best in our community.

Rich Coleman, MLA for Fort Langley-Aldergrove

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