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North Vancouver schools superintendent leaving to take top job in Surrey

Mark Pearmain, schools superintendent in North Vancouver for the past five years, will take on the top job in Surrey School District starting in March 2022

The superintendent of the North Vancouver School District, Mark Pearmain, has announced he is resigning to take over a job as superintendent of the Surrey School District.

Pearmain, 50, has been superintendent of the North Vancouver School District for the past five years. Prior to that, he was assistant superintendent in North Vancouver for two years. Before that, Pearmain worked in the Vancouver School District.

Pearmain has been at the head of the school district during construction of three major school construction projects, including the rebuilds of Argyle and Handsworth secondary schools and the seismic upgrade of Mountainside Secondary.

He has also headed the school district as it dealt with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 20 months, including exposures at a number of schools last year, an initial shift to online learning, and a shift back into the classroom full-time this school year.

Pearmain said many of the issues that educators in North Vancouver have dealt with are similar to those being faced in Surrey although the size and scope of school district is much bigger and broader. 

Among those are a number of capital projects, grappling with equity and inclusion issues and incorporating Indigenous perspectives into in the school system, he said. 

North Vancouver has also been "ahead of the curve" on issues like an emphasis on social and emotional learning and teaching about mental health to students, he added.

The North Vancouver School District has also weathered controversy during Pearmain’s time at the helm of North Vancouver schools.

The previous board of education was marked by internal fights among trustees, which prompted a review by a Ministry of Education consultant.

There were also debates about the school district’s practice of holding regular “seminars” where trustees received information and discussed general issues not related to land, legal or personnel issues behind closed doors. That practice continues.

Board chair George Tsiakos said in a statement the board is grateful for Pearmain’s leadership, especially during the pandemic, and for “the thoughtful, empathetic and graceful manner” in which he has brought people together.

ArgyleOpening_Welcome Figure 3
Sinàmkin, Jody Broomfield, Coast Salish artist (middle) stands with Kim Jonat, principal, Argyle Secondary (left), and Mark Pearmain, superintendent (right) after a ceremony marking the official opening of the new Argyle school. NVSD communications

Pearmain leaves the school district in a good position, said Tsiakos, as well as a financially stable one.

Pearmain will not take up his new position in Surrey until March 2022, which also allows a good amount of time to find a replacement, said Tsiakos. The board of education will now start a search for a new superintendent in North Vancouver.

The move to head up the Surrey School District is a significant step up for Pearmain. The Surrey School District is the largest in the province, with an enrolment of approximately 75,000 compared to 15,000 students in North Vancouver schools.

The Surrey schools superintendent earned over $300,000 annually, according to the school district’s statement of financial information. Pearmain earned $251,000 last year as North Vancouver School District’s superintendent.

Pearmain said he and his family will continue to live on the North Shore.