Change is in the air at Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB), as two vacant trustee seats need to be filled.

Trustees met Monday night for the first time following the death of trustee Fred Meissner and the resignation of Marie Snyder last week.

The meeting started on an emotional note, with letters about Meissner read aloud.

"I'm truly grateful for him in my life," one letter read. "The world is worst without him. Rest in peace."

A memorial for Meissner was laid on his desk in honour of the late Woolwich-Wellesley Trustee.

The discussion then turned to how they will fill the seats, with two options being presented: hold a by-election or fill the spots by appointment.

"Democracy is the reason we're all sitting around here," said trustee Cindy Watson. "My concern is that we will end up with an appointment that will look very different. It won't be democratic."

The board would have to foot the bill for a by-election and involve four municipalities.

The City of Waterloo says it would cost $214,000 for them alone, while the townships have not said their cost yet.

"I think our by-election would be prohibitively expensive," said trustee Scott Piatkowski. "We know that we are in a tight budget environment and, extrapolating on the City of Waterloo figure, we're looking at over a half million dollars to run two by-elections and certainly I can't justify that."

Trustees ended up voting in favour of filling the seats by appointment.

"If I thought we could get a reflection of the democratic process in a result, I might be willing to discuss the idea of spending that kind of money on a by-election, but at this point it feels it's not going to be, so I'm voting in favour of appointment," said trustee Carla Johnson.

The group voted in favour of forming an ad hoc committee to create an appointment process. The committee will come back to the board at the meeting of May 29.