It was a full house at the inaugural meeting of the newly elected Surrey Board of Education on Thursday evening.
The seven trustees were led in to the meeting room at the District Education Centre by a bagpiper and two members of the RCMP in Red Serge stood guard while they took their oaths of office and allegiance.
The meeting was the first since the Nov. 15 civic election that saw four incumbents – Laurie Larsen, Shawn Wilson, Terry Allen and Laurae McNally – and three new trustees – Gary Tymoschuk, Garry Thind and Bob Holmes – chosen by voters to serve the next four-year term.
Following the official swearing-in ceremony, Wilson was returned by acclamation to the chairperson position, as was Larsen to the vice-chair spot.
After taking the centre chair, Wilson spoke about the wide diversity in Surrey schools, with students coming from all corners of the globe and speaking hundreds of languages.
“In Surrey, when we open the doors to our schools in the morning, we open the doors to the world,” he said.
Wilson, who was first elected in 1999, said the district is a leader in education in B.C. and often leads by example.
“As trustees, we have stood for election to be in service,” he continued. “The public spoke loudly and now it is up to us to accept that sacred trust.”
Larsen spoke about the continued cooperation she anticipated from the board and said she chose not to put her name forth for the demanding role of chairperson so she could put family first.
Three Grade 11 students from Frank Hurt Secondary – Kailley Roesler, Abdul Khattab and Sherry Sandhu – welcomed the board on behalf of Surrey students, while Faizel Rawji, president of the Surrey Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association, spoke on behalf of the district’s 9,000 employees. Linda Stromberg, president of the District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC) also welcomed trustees, noting they were in charge of a “vital component” of any society – education.
Supt. Jordan Tinney addressed the board, saying trustees make decisions that count.
“You will, indeed, receive thanks from time to time. But those thanks will likely arrive far less frequently than the questions and concerns,” he said, adding their email inboxes would soon be overflowing.
Before adjourning the meeting, Wilson thanked outgoing trustees Reni Masi, Pam Glass and Charlene Dobie for their service. While Masi and Glass retired, Dobie was not re-elected.
All of the current trustees are part of the Surrey First Education Team, except for independent Laurae McNally, who is White Rock’s representative on the board.