School district has a new superintendent after long search

Sylvia Russell returns to take top position of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district or SD42


A former principal with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district is returning as boss of the whole system after a nine-month search to fill that role.

Sylvia Russell was principal and vice-principal and assistant superintendent for 17 years in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

She then moved to the Coquitlam school district, where she served, since 2005, as assistant superintendent.

“I have watched the progress of the school district over the past nine years with a sense of admiration and support for all that has been undertaken,” Russell said in a release announcing her as district superintendent, effective mid-November.

She said knowing the people who work in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, it’s not surprising to see the district develop innovative programs, leading-edge student assessment, strong graduation rates and interesting applications of digital tools.

“The school district has always had a very strong, forward-thinking and committed staff, a wonderful student population and a supportive parent community.

“I am delighted to return to the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district and am honoured that the board of education has asked me to undertake the role of superintendent of schools.”

School board chair Mike Murray called Russell a “visionary leader.”

While teachers and students are getting back into the groove after a bitter labour dispute, the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district still doesn’t know how much it has to pay back to the provincial government from the savings it achieved from the dispute when classes were out in June and September.

District spokesperson Irena Pochop said that could take the finance department until mid-October to calculate the savings it must pay back to the government.

All savings made after Sept. 2 have to be returned to the Ministry of Education. However, school boards can keep 20 per cent of what they saved prior to that and pay the rest back.

The school board also objected to the government paying parents of kids under 13 years old, $40 for each day that school was out to cover childcare costs.

That money instead should have gone to the Learning Improvement Fund, says the board.

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