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Horizon School Division
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April 29, 2016 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

August 08, 2016

As I’m reflecting on how quickly this year has gone, I recognize that I sometimes forget to stop and enjoy the precious gifts in life. Work is important to me and knowing how hard staff work in Horizon, I know I’m not alone. It sometimes feels that the things that are most critical in our lives, like our family, will wait for us while we get this last project done or this last assessment completed. The problem is they don’t truly wait so we need to ensure we take the time for ourselves and for others we’re in relationship with. My challenge to any of you who read this focuses on the importance of providing the time for self in order to provide for relationship. If your loved ones need you, give them your time. If a child at your school wants to talk, provide them the audience they deserve. If you get the chance to enjoy a breather, take it for yourself…and for others. Any of you who have flown in airplanes know that the first thing you are to do in the event of a loss in cabin pressure is to dawn your own mask first. You can’t help others unless you take care of yourself. I don’t think it hurts to be reminded of the importance of keeping ourselves healthy, both physically and mentally, so we can help others. All this said, I have begun to look deeply at our recent Fountas and Pinnell results from across the system, and the time we are spending on our Board’s literacy goal is making a significant difference in our results. The deeper why related to this data translates into learning improvement for our children and students. I look forward to sharing how we’ve done in upcoming engagements and future editions of TWIH. Our success belongs to each stakeholder in this journey including our parents, our Board, our school staffs, our central office staff and, of course, our children. We’re on the right path and our efforts are paying large dividends in student learning success. The amazing thing to me is…we still have two months to keep making an even greater difference so keep taking the time for self so others can get the best of you.

We began our week on Monday with the continuation of CUPE negotiations. Although the day stretched into the night, we continue to draw ever closer to an agreement that is positive for both employees and employer. Focusing on the issues while ensuring an understanding of the impacts on our people and the system, continues to enhance the relationship we enjoy with CUPE. At all levels of our system and in everything we do for our students, collaboration and relationship are keys to success and I look forward to continuing this focus through the remaining negotiation. I have a strong belief it will ultimately lead us to an agreement in the very near future.

Our Board’s Governance Committee met on Tuesday. The committee, chaired by Trustee, Leslie Lewis looks deeply at the issues related to governance on behalf of our Board and Division. I was unable to attend due to meetings with principal of Imperial School, Carol Baade and her staff, but the work of the committee resulted in a large number of recommendations that will be shared with our Board at their next meeting. Following the Governance Committee meeting, I joined trustees Jim Hack (Board Chair), Wil Lengyel (Vice-Chair) and Nathan Bitternose at our regular Horizon Teachers’ Association (HTA) Liaison meeting. The Board and members of my staff meet with HTA executive members regularly to discuss items of relevance for both the Board and its teaching staff. This was one of the last meetings for current president, Dustin Hubick. Dustin has been a strong supporter of the HTA and I have greatly appreciated the work he has done in support of the teachers across Horizon and Englefeld School Divisions. A great deal was discussed during our two hours together and likely the largest ticket item related to our work flowing out of collaboration days. Both parties feel it is necessary to continue our Teacher Workload and Efficacy committee as this committee comprised of the Board, its teachers and senior leadership team members will have a significant impact on our work as a system.

Following the Liaison meeting, members of the HTA bargaining committee met with members of the employer’s bargaining team to discuss the final language of our LINC agreement. I was involved in other meetings and arrived just as the language discussion ended. As with our CUPE negotiations, our LINC negotiations have been extremely positive and I am excited that we have moved ever closer to a tentative LINC agreement with preparations beginning for a ratification vote by the Board and teachers.

On Wednesday, I joined our Board in our initial 2016-17 budget discussions and deliberations. Although the provincial budget has been a hot topic for much of the spring, I was able to present an initial school division budget to our Board for their review. A great deal of work has been done to ensure Horizon’s budget can be implemented as soon as possible following a provincial budget announcement on June 1st. I would like to thank our principals and staffs, Deputy Director & CFO Lionel Diederichs, Superintendent of Finance Services, Marilyn Flaman, Deputy Director of Education, Randy MacLEAN and their teams for their efforts in compiling the data for the Board to make informed decisions regarding our ongoing financial situation. One of the many significant roles of our Board is to ensure our nearly 89-million-dollar budget is allocated appropriately and they rely on my office to get them the information necessary for their goals to be realized. As a result of the meeting, the Board has approved in principle, a budget that will continue to provide the necessary staff and supports for learning to ensure continued success for our students. Of course, the budget is based on assumptions and there remains a sense of uncertainty until our province releases the provincial budget.

Immediately following our budget discussion, I attended a teleconference regarding the newly named Sector-Wide Efficiencies Outcome (formerly Operational Spending Outcome) of the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP). I continue to be the primary owner of this outcome and secondary owners include Cory Rideout, Director of Education from Light of Christ Roman Catholic School Division and Assistant Deputy Ministers, Donna Johnson and Clint Repski. Our work as an outcome team continues to focus on finding sector-wide efficiencies and establishing continuous improvement initiatives such as those found in LEAN practices.

While I was tied up at the office on Wednesday, Lanigan Elementary School held their Cultural Diversity Day. This day was organized to celebrate and learn about different cultures while encouraging both empathy and understanding in our youth. Such days have now been held at several Horizon schools and speak directly to the significance of our Board’s Safe & Caring goal. I would like to thank LES Principal, Janice Fansher and Horizon’s First Nation & Métis Liaison Officer, Lester Gardiner for their work to provide this learning opportunity for our students. As we continue to ensure that our schools are culturally responsive and welcoming environments for all students and staff, I am proud that our schools are taking on these events to encourage conversations and empathy among our school communities.

Our third Review of School Effectiveness (ROSE) took place at Rose Valley School on Thursday. I would be remiss if I did not begin by thanking Rose Valley Principal, Maynard Prosko and his staff for opening their classroom doors to our ROSE team and embracing this opportunity to celebrate the work and culture of their school. As with the two previous ROSE events at Three Lakes School and Drake School, this event at Rose Valley was an extremely positive day. One particular story stands out as I recall the experience. One young student at Rose Valley was so excited to be hosting our ROSE team and, knowing she was not going to be part of the grade 1 to 3 focus group, wanted the opportunity to share her perspective on her school. She spent Wednesday night creating a poster welcoming the ROSE team and illustrating why she felt the school was such an effective school. Her statements found in her poster are precisely what the ROSE process is all about: celebrating our successes, striving for improvement and recognizing that our work has an impact on the effectiveness of the learning environment. I spent the majority of my day in focus groups with students and support staff listening intensely to their appreciation of the many people and programs at Rose Valley. Following supper, a focus group was held for parents and SCC members. Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw, Supervisor of Student Services, Jason Neville and I met with these folks as they talked about their school from their paradigm. I want to thank Crandall, Jason and Coordinator of Learning Services, Jan Paproski, for their work in preparing for the review process as well as visiting principals, Cory Popoff (HCI), Deb Schwandt-Kelln (Strasbourg), Ryan Bulych (Ituna) and Darryl Dickson (Wakaw) as well as Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, for their efforts in observing the great teachers at Rose Valley School. A report will be prepared for Maynard and his staff in the upcoming weeks to review and respond to and will also be shared with the Board of Education at their regular meeting in June. Randy MacLEAN (Deputy Director) and Todd Gjevre (Superintendent of Human Resource Services) attend these events when they are available but due to human resource matters, they were unable to attend.

I began Friday on the road with Randy as we attended a staffing meeting at Englefeld School before heading back to the office where we joined trustee and Vice-Chair, Wil Lengyel for principal interviews for Three Lakes School and Rose Valley School. On Saturday, I joined principal, Patsy Knafelc and EPSSD trustee, Donna Altermatt in Humboldt for teacher interviews for Englefeld School. On both days, we were witness to a number of impressive potential candidates and I would like to thank each of them for their passion and commitment to education.

The first Horizon school graduation of the 2016 grad season took place on Friday, April 29, at Lake Lenore School and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Randy for attending on behalf of my office and trustee, Dave Holinaty for attending on behalf of our Board of Education. I would like to congratulate our graduates from Lake Lenore on this very special milestone. Our students’ dedication to their studies is celebrated through graduation ceremonies but they have not been alone in their accomplishment. The dedication of our Board, of parents/caregivers, staff and community have also been necessary spokes in their “wheel of success”. As the remainder of the school year unfolds and more of our students celebrate graduations in schools across our system, everyone who has had a hand in ensuring the achievements of our students, including themselves, should be extremely proud. I know that each of our graduates has had a bright past and I look forward to seeing the contributions they will make to our shared future.

Have a great week, everyone.


-Kevin


Kevin C. Garinger, B.Ed, M.A.Ed
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205