Trustee Michael Ewen and former trustee Brent Atkinson spent about three times more than other trustees and claimed more than half of the $10,542 spent on trustee expenses last year.
Ewen expensed $3,580, while Atkinson's expenses were $2,845 for the 2011/12 school year.
Ewen was chair and vice-chair for the year. Atkinson was only on the board for half of the school year, as he didn't run in the 2011 civic election.
New Westminster school district secretary-treasurer Brian Sommerfeldt would not answer The Record's inquiry as to what the expenses were for. He said he would wait until after the board of education's meeting on Dec. 18 to explain the costs.
"I forwarded your questions to the board chair. The agenda was posted to the district website on Friday for information and to allow the public to be better informed prior to the Tuesday's board meeting," he wrote in an email to The Record today. "As a matter of process, I will respond to questions after the board has received the report at the board meeting and have had a chance to ask questions."
Ewen's costs include two conferences he attended on behalf of the board and two trips to Victoria regarding the district's capital project, he said.
Ewen said it might be a good idea for the board to direct staff to include a breakdown of trustee expenses in the district's annual statement of financial information, which is released by every school district in December, but he said staff is busy dealing with the district's deficit.
"Obviously, admin is busy right now with the deficit recovery option and with our meeting with the ministry," said Ewen. "But I'm also saying, 'we have one administrator who does this stuff, and he's also doing a deficit-reduction plan, which, quite frankly, is a lot more important than you getting information on what trustee expenses were.' What I spent $3,000 on is somewhat less important than finding $2 million so we are not in deficit this year.
"Whether it's available to meet your deadlines is irrelevant to me, what's relevant to me is the information should be public and if you have a question like that it will be public, whether it's public today, tomorrow or Wednesday, I don't think matters to most people. I think what most people really want is that information, and I think people want the information in a reasonable time. I don't think most people care if we respond immediately to the media or not."
School districts are required by law to submit a statement of financial information (SOFI) within six months of its fiscal year end. The document includes trustee expenses along with other costs.
Other trustee expenses were: Jonina Campbell, $1,341; David Phelan, $1,274; MaryAnn Mortensen, $766; Lisa Graham, $488; James Janzen, $152; and Casey Cook $62. Former trustees James Goring and Lori Watt expensed $15 each.
The district spent $155,000 school trustees stipends.
The New Westminster school district has a $2.8-million surprise deficit from last and is facing another hefty $2.2-million deficit this year if it doesn't make major spending cuts.