School trustee steps down from board post

School trustee MaryAnn Mortensen has resigned from her position on the board of education.

The district announced on Wednesday Mortensen had sent the board a letter of resignation, effective March 4.

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No reason was given for her resignation, but superintendent Pat Duncan confirmed she hadn’t attended any meetings since last August.

“She was a very, very good trustee, one, and she was dedicated to public education, and all of her decisions were really child- and student-focused,” said trustee Casey Cook, who ran with Mortensen in both the 2011 and 2014 civic elections.

Cook was surprised to learn Mortensen was resigning. With her gone, Cook is now the only trustee who wasn’t endorsed by the New Westminster and District Labour Council during the last election.

“But as long as we focus on children and we focus on students, we’ll find common ground,” he added.

Cook couldn’t shed any light on the resignation either, noting the letter Mortensen sent to the district included personal information that trustees weren’t privy to.

Mortensen was a two-term trustee first elected in 2011 and held on to her seat during the 2014 civic election. Board chair Jonina Campbell, who ran and won her first trustee seat at the same time as Mortensen, said she is sad to see Mortensen resign.

“We came a long way on the board, and a lot of the work we had to do, she was a big part of that. It was a challenging time for our district, and the board really pulled together to turn things around,” Campbell said.

Mortensen’s resignation means the district will have to hold a byelection.

The date of the byelection will be announced once a chief election officer is appointed by the city. Duncan expects it’ll take place on a Saturday sometime in late spring.

Duncan couldn’t say how much the byelection will cost the district, however he confirmed the district will be footing the bill.

The Record contacted Mortensen but calls were not returned by deadline.

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