Two new school projects planned for Langley. Will they be enough?

The province has announced a new school and a new addition in Langley's fast-growing Willoughby neighbourhood.

Langley is getting another two new schools. But it might not be enough to keep up with the city’s booming population.

The province announced two more school-building projects in Langley last week. Alongside the new middle school, an addition to R.E. Mountain Secondary is in the works.

The new projects come as construction continues on existing schools and a new elementary school in Langley. While work building new spots for new students is ongoing, the number of new students continues to trend upwards. And new schools take time to build. 

More students

In the fall of 2022, as kids strapped their backpacks on and schlepped back to their desks after summer vacation, the Langley School District was home to 22,763 kids. By September of 2023, one year later, 1,200 more kids had joined the district’s schools. The district had predicted an increase of only 812 kids. 

Over the next two years, Langley School District projects enrolment to increase by 1,100 students, or about 550 students a year. Those projections—and how accurate they end up being—are important, because they’ll determine just how many new schools Langley will need in the coming years. 

New seats opening

The last new classrooms to open in Langley were in the Donna Gabriel Robins Elementary school in 2021. With no new classrooms opening in two years, existing schools are having to deal with 2023’s student boom. 

Several schol construction projects are either currently underway or about to begin, though. They include a 275-seat expansion at Peter Ewart Middle School that is expected to open this fall; a 300-seat addition at Langley Secondary School, which should open in 2025; and a new elementary school in Latimer that will have 555 spots for students and is expected to open in 2025 as well. 

Another, prefabricated six-classroom addition to Richard Bulpitt Elementary in Willoughby is expected to be ready for students this fall. 

That’s more than 1,130 new seats over the next two Septembers. 

The province’s most recent announcement, made in Langley last week, included two more new school construction projects—a new middle school in the Smith neighbourhood and an addition to R.E. Mountain Secondary near 200th Street. Both are in the Township’s rapidly growing Willoughby neighbourhood.

The schools are both still in planning stages, but the district originally hoped for a 12-classroom addition at the high school and a 900-seat middle school. If the district’s plan is followed by the province, the two new projects will result in about 1,260 new spaces for students. 

But schools take time to build.

Enough spots?

If the district's projections for the next few years are accurate, about 1,000 more students will have joined the school district by the time the first round of new schools (and their 1,130 seats) open in 2025. But projections have not always been accurate: the district enrolled 388 more kids than expected in 2023. 

The next batch of classroom construction projects are still in early planning phases. Once planning ends and construction begins, a new school or addition can take about two years to finish and open. (If prefabrication becomes part of the plans for the two new projects, construction timelines would shorten.) 

Whether or not the upcoming additions and new schools will satisfy the increasing need for facilities in the quickly-developing Willoughby neighbourhood—and the growing township in general—depends on several factors that influence how many kids are going to school. 

If enrolment continues to increase at the current rate, about 1,500 more kids will be expected to need spots in the district by September, 2027, when the 1,260 spaces announced last week could open. 

But as new home construction and subsequent population growth continues in Langley—and as both provincial and municipal policies surrounding the number of new homes built in the area shift and change—the school district’s student population projections are likely to shift, too. In any case, as Langley’s population swells and school-building lags behind, the two new projects will likely be at capacity the day they open.

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