Trustees Reni Masi

Surrey school trustees sworn in

Teachers rally outside inaugural meeting; new trustee strives for greater communication.

It was standing room only at the inaugural meeting of the Surrey Board of Education Dec. 8. And while many in the crowd were there to support the six incumbent and one newly elected trustee, dozens of other attendees were teachers, hoping to draw attention to job action that began in September. Teachers remain without a contract and negotiations with the province are ongoing. Carrying signs reading “You can’t bargain with a sub-zero mandate” and “All I want for Christmas is the learning support I need,” a large crowd of men and women stood outside the glass wall of the meeting room, their placards facing the table of trustees. The evening marked the first meeting of the board of trustees since the Nov. 19 civic election that saw six of the seven trustees re-elected: Shawn Wilson, Terry Allen, Laurie Larsen, Pam Glass, Reni Masi (all with Surrey First Education) and Laurae McNally, who was acclaimed in White Rock. The only new face is Charlene Dobie, who was elected under the Surrey Civic Coalition banner. After the official swearing-in ceremony, McNally was acclaimed as the board’s chairperson for another year, and Wilson remains as vice-chair. Both have held the roles since 2008. McNally thanked her colleagues for returning the gavel to her and welcomed returning trustees back to the board table. “The public in Surrey clearly thought that you were doing a fine job,” she said. Addressing Dobie, she said she’d find trusteeship “rewarding,” “heartwarming” and at times, “trying,” but promised her no two days would be the same. Prior to the meeting, Dobie said she hoped to continue to fight to get Surrey the capital funding it needs, and would strive to bring more openness to the board of education. “I really believe in communication, so I really want to be out there talking to people,” Dobie said. Dobie was a special education assistance in the Surrey School District for 14 years, but had to resign from her full-time position to take her role as trustee. It’s less pay, no benefits and no pension, she admitted, but said “that’s fine, I’m going with it.” The next meeting of the Surrey Board of Education is scheduled for Dec. 15.

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