School district gets new secretary-treasurer

Superintendent says new hire brings a lot of experience and expertise to Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

The Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows School District has a new No. 2.

Flavia Coughlan has replaced Wayne Jefferson at the local school district’s secretary treasurer, the second-most senior staff position in the district.

The secretary treasurer is the second-most senior staff position in the district, and is responsible for the district’s finances and budget, among other duties.

Coughlan immigrated to Canada from Romania 11 years ago, and has spent the past nine years working in education, most recently as the Vancouver School Board’s director of finance.

“This is a very innovative school district,” she said of her decision to come to School District No. 42. “This district’s mission is closely aligned with my own personal values: to give every student the opportunity to achieve their dreams, whatever they may be.”

Superintendent Jan Unwin said Coughlan brings a wealth of experience and expertise to her new role.

“[She has] enormous experience in the K-12 public school sector, plus she had the attributes that we value when building our senior leadership team,” she said. “She is skilled and knowledgeable in the area of finance, and committed and passionate about her work.”

Unwin added Coughlan is involved in the Ministry Technical Review Committee, the Accounting Advisory Committee, and the BC Associate of School Business Officials.

Coughlan was welcomed to the school district by the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Board of Education at its public meeting Wednesday, with a stirring rendition of Happy Birthday, sung by the trustees.

Coughlan replaces Jefferson, who has served as secretary treasurer for the past three years. Jefferson, a former Surrey school board trustee, was hired on as an interim secretary treasurer in May of 2009 after then-secretary treasurer Don Woytowich stepped down due to health concerns. In Feb. 2010, Jefferson was hired on permanently.

“It’s been a joy and a learning experience,” said Jefferson of his tenure as secretary treasurer.

Trustee Ken Clarkson, who was board chair for much of Jefferson’s tenure, said Jefferson helped oversee many positive changes in the district.

Jefferson said will stay on for the next month to help Coughlan with the transition to her new role.

Jefferson said he will continue to serve as the chair of the B.C. Pension Corporation, a position he has held since April 2011.


Elementary enrolment drops

Elementary school enrolment is down across the school district this school year, leaving staff scratching their heads as to where the students have gone.

While kindergarten projections were nearly dead on for incoming students at the start of this school year, the district has seen an unexpected drop in students between elementary grades, superintendent Jan Unwin told the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Board of Education at their meeting Wednesday night.

In all a total of 73 students in Grades 1 to 7 left the district since the end of last school year.

Edith McDermott Elementary School in Pitt Meadows saw the biggest drop in students, with 16 fewer kids between Grades 1 and 7, while Blue Mountain saw a drop of 10.