Surrey trustee Terry Allen (left) has been elected vice-chair of the Board of Education and former vice-chair Laurie Larsen (right) has been elected as chair. (File photos)

Laurie Larsen elected as new Surrey Board of Education chair

Surrey school board also elects trustee Terry Allen to replace Larsen as vice-chair

SURREY — Surrey’s Board of Education voted trustee Laurie Larsen in to be their new chair Wednesday night.

“I’m very excited,” said Larsen Thursday morning. “I’m very honoured that my fellow trustees elected me. It’s been nine years as trustee, then a couple years as vice-chair, so I’m very honoured.”

Larsen, who previously sat as vice chair, has replaced Shawn Wilson as chairperson.

At the top of Larsen’s to-do list right out of the gate are to “get the wrinkles ironed out” on the Memorandum of Agreement following the Supreme Court decision restoring class size and composition.

“And there’s always the funding, trying to put more pressure on the people who can do something about it,” she said of her priorities. “Putting money back in the classrooms where it should be. And the portable issue, of course, that’s one we’ve been passionate about for a long time.”

See also: Coalition says it’s ‘ready’ to help province rid Surrey of school portables

See also: NDP would get Surrey students out of portables and into real classrooms, Horgan says

See also: ‘Schools need to be built now,’ says Surrey parent group

Meantime, Surrey trustee Terry Allen was voted in to replace Larsen as vice-chair.

Larsen said she and Allen work very well together.

“We might move (the board) in a different direction,” she mused. “And hopefully become more active on things we both have top of mind.”

Allen said he’s also excited to take on his new role.

“I can’t see the board changing that much but I certainly think we bring a different perspective, Laurie and I, both from union backgrounds, so I think it’s going to be exciting,” he told the Now-Leader.

Allen said as vice-chair he will continue to fight for capital funding for desperately needed new schools.

“The capital is number one, there’s no question about that. All the focus for Laurie and me, I hope, will be meeting with the ministry and moving forward to push this government to live up to its commitments. Trying to remove all the portables in Surrey, we all know that’s just pie in the sky, but the truth of the matter is it’s a genuine concern.

“Let’s hope at the end of the day we can make some kind of change,” he added. “That’s not to say the previous chair hasn’t tried, but now, maybe I’ll have more of a say in where we go with this and how we proceed with this.”

See also: Surrey union decries ‘epidemic’ level shortage of education assistants in B.C.

See more: ‘Troublesome’ on-call teacher shortage in Surrey

See more: Surrey must create 168 new classrooms, hire 300 teachers

Outgoing chair Shawn Wilson served as Surrey Board of Education chair or vice-chair for close to two decades. Wilson was elected as chair from 2012 to 2017 and prior to that, from 2003 to 2007. He also held the vice-chair position from 2000 to 2003 and from 2008 to 2012.

“If other people would like to have a chance at that, I never wanted to hog it,” Wilson said. “I certainly enjoyed the responsibilities, I like challenges and I liked working with the professional staff, I liked all of the responsibilities. I don’t shy away from it. It can be very demanding. All in all, I wouldn’t say I’m saddened. But if the board wanted me to chair again tomorrow, I would do it.”

He noted the position comes with a massive time commitment. So much so, it simply wouldn’t be possible for someone who worked full time.

Wilson said “different personalities do things differently” and that there may be things Larsen will do that he didn’t. He noted that the chair is much more involved with the superintendent than the trustees.

Wilson was quoted as chair in a government release the morning after Larsen and Allen were elected, when the provincial government announced a new $24 million elementary school in the Grandview Heights area and a $9-million addition to Pacific Heights Elementary Thursday morning.

It could be the last time he’s quoted as chair.

See more: Elementary set for Grandview in 2020

Wilson said he hopes there are more similar announcements coming soon for Surrey.

“It looks like the start of a new way of doing things,” Wilson said of the provincial NDP government.

Press is something he stressed the importance of to incoming chair Larsen.

“I told her, do not ever, ever ignore the press,” said Wilson. “You have to answer every question. The public needs answers and even if you’re uncomfortable with the topic, you have to answer questions.”

Wilson chuckled as he recalled doing a video conference call with a news reporter from Hawaii last year while vacationing.

“I had to go in a back room, it wasn’t very well lit,” he laughed. “Even when I was away, I still took calls.”



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Amy on Twitter

Just Posted

South Surrey church members ‘praying for accused mother… for the whole process’

Lisa Batstone’s second-degree murder trial continues this week in B.C. Supreme Court

City will ask Fraser Health to remove pay parking at SMH, Surrey councillor says

Surrey’s new council has already made parking free on neighbouring city streets

Health and Technology District breaks ground on new building

City Centre 3 is the third of eight planned buildings: Lark Group

Spawning salmon returning to North Delta’s Cougar Creek

It’s early in the season, but the streamkeepers are hopeful it could be a good year for returns

Surrey White Rock Ringette Association ‘excited’ about world championships coming to Lower Mainland

Ringette Canada says the sport has reached record registration numbers

Winter weather hits parts of Canada

As some parts of the country brace for cold, parts of B.C. remain warmer than 10 C

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Kelly Ellard’s boyfriend has statutory release revoked

Darwin Duane Dorozan had several parole infractions that found him ‘unmanageable’

New chair of Metro Vancouver board is Burnaby councillor

The 40-person board is made up of elected officials from 21 cities and one First Nation

Doctor’s note shouldn’t be required to prove you’re sick: poll

70% of Canadians oppose allowing employers to make you get a sick note

German-born B.C. man warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Saskatchewan college honours memory of Humboldt Broncos coach

Darcy Haugan wore jersey No. 22 when he was a star player with the Briercrest College Clippers

Most Read