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

UPDATE, with video: Man in his 80s hit by SUV at Scott Road near 72nd in Surrey

Victim was reportedly unconscious and suffering from major head injuries

South Surrey shots-fired accused due back in court Jan. 2

Cameron Barton arrested Sept. 25 in White Rock

FURRY FRIDAY: Surrey animal shelter’s adoptee of the week

Meet Jake, this week’s featured animal currently at Surrey Animal Resource Centre

‘Bring on the Balls’ campaign makes Surrey Christmas Bureau bounce

Teens to benefit from donation drive by North Surrey-based realtors

Cloverdale’s Thunder Colts hockey team raises thousands for Burn Fund

Barbeque event brings in $3,400, donations accepted until Friday, Dec. 15

VIDEO: Volunteers, donations needed as ‘Whalley Santa Cause’ returns to Surrey’s 135A Street

Volunteers will descend on the Surrey ‘Strip’ to give hampers to homeless on Christmas Day, but help is needed

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

UPDATED: Train collides with car in Maple Ridge

Mother and child both uninjured, track cleared at 11 a.m.

Accused B.C. drug smuggler to be extradited

Supreme Court of Canada upholds extradition order for accused Shuswap drug smuggler, Colin Martin

One convicted, two cleared in 2014 deaths of men in B.C.’s Cariboo

Andrew Jongbloets convicted of manslaughter in deaths of Matthew Hennigar, 23 and Kalvin Andy, 22

VIDEO: Pedestrian struck by vehicle caught on security camera

Incident points to danger on the roads not only in low light but also in bright sunshine

Surrey RCMP looking for impaired drivers

‘This whole month, the emphasis is CounterAttack’

Most Read