Yorkson Middle School

District-wide middle school model adopted

Langley board of education trustees voted unanimously to implement a middle school model throughout the community

The middle school education model will be adopted for the entire Langley School District.

At the Oct. 25 board of education meeting, trustees unanimously supported a motion for the establishment of a district-wide middle school model as part of the Long Term Facilities Plan.

They then agreed to have staff consult with the Brookswood, D.W. Poppy and Walnut Grove Secondary communities regarding the transition to a middle school model after numerous community meetings in the affected neighbourhoods.

The unanimous support for the middle school model stands in sharp contrast to 2008, when H.D. Stafford was being transitioned from a high school to a middle school.

That decision by the Langley School District was done without community consultation and for financial reasons, as the district was facing budget pressures.

In fact, several of the trustees who sit on the board today ran because of their fight against the way the H.D. Stafford conversion was handled.

Trustee Shelly Coburn was one of those people.

“The main driver of Stafford was purely economical, not what’s important for kids. I was vocal in my concerns back then, so much so that I moved, so I wasn’t in the Stafford catchment,” Coburn said.

But her opinion has since softened on the benefits of middle schools, and her second son attended Stafford.

“The difference in education is profound. I deeply regret not sending my oldest son to middle school. The benefits of middle school are based on sound research and this process has been done with a lot of consultation.”

“I was bitter from the process before,” said trustee Rosemary Wallace, who also fought against the Stafford conversion in 2008.

“But I am going to support this today because of all the consultation with the community.”

An information session held at Coast Hotel conference centre two weeks ago on the middle school model was attended by more than 180 parents, educators and administrators.

During that meeting, several parents of Langley middle school students spoke about the benefits they have seen to their own children.

The first community the district will reach out to is the D.W. Poppy area, said assistant superintendent Gord Stewart.

“We will bring lots of information. What are the demographics of the area, what is the state of our facilities there?

“And we are seeking input,” said Stewart. “It may be that the model in one area may look very different than (in) another area.”

Trustee Alison McVeigh said there will be a financial impact to the conversion.

“There is a need for lockers, new equipment, this will play a part,” said McVeigh.

The conversion to middle schools won’t be happening in all three areas at once and won’t be happening anytime soon, said Stewart.

Each affected neighbourhood will be consulted and asked for input in a series of consultation meetings.