Langley school board chair Megan Dykeman addressed the public at the final community middle school consultation for East Langley on Nov. 12.

D.W. Poppy middle school decision nears

Langley School District community consultations concluded at the school board on Nov. 12

Last week saw the final meeting for the entire Langley School District’s community consultation process about plans for a new middle school in East Langley.

After a three-month process with six meetings that spanned nine schools, district representatives assistant superintendent Woody Bradford and communications manager Joanne Abshire held a final meeting at the school district board office.

Bradford and Abshire presented three considerations for the communities.

Option One: to re-submit the request for $4.5-million in capital funding to add a middle school-component to D.W. Poppy Secondary.

Option Two: To place portables at D.W. Poppy to make room for at least another middle-school grade.

Option Three: To turn D.W. Poppy into a stand-alone middle school and ACSS into its feeder secondary school.

Opinions have varied among Aldergrove residents connected to Aldergrove Secondary and those with ties to D.W. Poppy Secondary.

Two petitions have popped up, opposing option three where Poppy transitions into a middle school and Aldergrove Secondary is its feeder high school – from the Kwantlen’s IR 6 reserve members, and Poppy parents and students. Both groups cited reasons including a lack of transportation, scholarships, sports, and other Poppy-specific opportunities as well as a lack of “true community consultation.”

Hundreds have attended the meetings, and many more have shared their thoughts through a district survey online and by emailing feedback@sd35.bc.ca.

Input was gathered between Sept. 18 and Nov. 15.

In central Aldergrove, many parents welcome the idea of larger enrolment numbers and the possibility of more educational opportunities and extracurriculars for their children.

The change would “see an increased flexibility and variety of courses. Students will be able to choose advanced placement courses… also get to choose from more extracurricular activities and clubs, and Career Ed programs such as BCIT courses,” said the district website.

At the final community meeting on Tuesday, board chair Megan Dykeman came forward to clear the air.

“It is the conclusion of our in-community consultations but not the conclusion of the work that needs to be done,” Dykeman assured the room.

Back in 2012, the board of education undertook review of its long-term facilities plan, required by the B.C. Ministry of Education. A motion for the Langley School District to move towards a middle school education model emerged as a result.

In June, Aldergrove Secondary and D.W. Poppy staff were sent out into the community to gather insights from students, parents, and the broader population.

Dykeman spoke of a rampant “misconception” she claimed to notice in some of the feedback received online.

“The board supports staff going out to communities, and that is so important. We are a community,” Dykeman elaborated.

“Staff comes back but the board decides how things are going to move and the direction we’re going to go in,” Dykeman finished.

A final recommendation will be made by district staff and presented to the board of education on Thursday, Dec. 10 at its regular meeting.

There, the board will make a decision of which of the three options will be implemented – if any – or if an alternative decision is to be considered moving forward.

A summary of all feedback will be presented to the public at the same time it is presented to the board.

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