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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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June 24, 2016 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

August 08, 2016

The past few days have been extremely emotional and challenging for many of us in Horizon School Division. When one of our own Horizon children suffers a life-threatening injury, the whole system feels the incredible struggle that comes from feelings of helplessness. Cashtyn Ilchyshen, as a result of running into a bus on his bicycle, has been fighting for his life and he and his family continue to need everyone to send thoughts and prayers toward him. Your prayers seem to be working as Cashtyn was able to undergo surgery for a second time Sunday morning and the result was very positive. The doctors were able to have his spleen, his diaphragm and his pancreas repaired and close him up for good. I had the opportunity to stop in at Royal University Hospital yesterday afternoon and had the good fortune to speak to Cashtyn’s mother, Brandi and his grandparents. It is clear that our little man is not completely out of the woods but the doctors are optimistic as there appear to be no further signs of internal bleeding. He remains in a medically induced coma, although he is trying to come out of it and the doctors continue to struggle to keep him under. I would ask you to keep him in your thoughts as he keeps fighting. We continue to assess exactly what happened on Thursday with a view to ensure that processes are in place across Horizon so that terrible accidents such as this can be mitigated. I know that traumatic events such as this grip us in different ways so numerous supports have been available at Wakaw School to help our students and staff process the trauma that comes from such an accident. When such misfortune occurs, it is important that we come together as a community to support each other. Please know that support is available for anyone who may need it and all that is required is for us to be made aware of the need. As the Dalai Lama reminds us, “There is a saying in Tibetan, 'Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.' No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that's our real disaster.” Cashtyn is able to draw upon the hopes of many across Horizon and I appreciate the fact that we have so many incredible people to support during this difficult time.

While I was in Saskatoon and at RUH, I also took that opportunity to visit with trustee Wil Lengyel who had undergone his second elbow surgery in the last few months. I am thankful that he is doing well and shared that our system will continue to keep him in our thoughts during his recovery.

The Joint Operating Committee (JOC) met on Monday morning to discuss Horizon’s agreement with Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools (GSCS) in the operation of Humboldt Collegiate Institute and to approve the 2016-17 school year budget. Trustees, Denis Bergerman and Jim Hack, sit on the JOC representing our Horizon Board. Director of GSCS, Greg Chatlain, CFO, Joel Lloyd and Superintendent of HR, Al Boutin make up the administration for GSCS and Deputy Directors, Randy MacLEAN and Lionel Diederichs joined Superintendent of Finance Services, Marilyn Flaman and me as part of the administration team for Horizon. Following budget approval, we discussed numerous items including the hiring process for the term Vice Principal position at HCI and the potential of providing in-city bussing for Humboldt.

Following our JOC meeting, the Board held a special budget meeting. With a great deal of work on the part of our Finance Services team and indeed everyone across our system, we were able to present a budget to the Board that addresses funding challenges while ensuring our core function continues to be realized. We will be providing more information on this budget in the coming days but basically, if we maintained what we had this year, we would be approximately 3 million dollars short. That said, we remain very optimistic that we have the supports in place to meet the needs of our students in 2016-17.

The Joint Committee on Teacher Workload Intensification met on Monday afternoon. The committee has been reviewing the results received from a survey that was shared with all teachers across Horizon and has determined a number of recommendations from this data, such as the need to create an online site for teachers to share resources and greater access to professional development opportunities. This survey is still open and has been provided to all teachers to ensure the committee hears each of your voices. I look forward to the review the recommendations including the potential of implementation based on the data.

Tuesday, June 21, was National Aboriginal Day. To honour this important day, Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw and First Nation Liaison Officer, Lester Gardiner organized a celebration for central office staff. We were joined by Morris Bear, our partner from Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, who led staff in a smudging ceremony and performed a rendition of an honour song. Lester also provided a snack of bannock, moose meat and potatoes for staff to enjoy. As people around Canada honour the cultures and achievements of Indigenous People, we reflect on the important partnerships we enjoy in Horizon. Collaboration with First Nations and Métis partners has been critical to ensure culturally responsive learning and success for all Horizon students and we appreciate greatly these important relationships.

I had a chance to meet with Janet Wagner on Tuesday afternoon following interviews for the Rose Valley principal position on Tuesday morning. Janet works in support of three school divisions across the province including Prairie Spirit, North East and Horizon and supports our continuous improvement work such as LEAN. Janet then met with Marilyn Flaman to go over aspects of Horizon’s quarterly reporting as it relates to our continuous improvement work. Meanwhile, I had the opportunity to join Principal Dennis Gerwing, Supervisor of Literacy and Early Learning Services, Katherine Oviatt and the grade 7-12 students and staff of Muenster School for their awards celebration. I had the honour to share a message with the students, staff and community and present the Author-in-Residence iPad mini to a lucky Muenster student. While in Muenster, students shared with me a large card they made for our Writer-In-Residence, Sigmund Brouwer, to thank him for his work throughout this past year. It is a beautiful symbol of his important work engaging our students around literacy and is filled with touching sentiments of thanks from our kids. I look forward to delivering the card to Sigmund and will express that the appreciation of our students in Muenster is echoed by everyone across Horizon.

I returned to the office Tuesday afternoon for our signing of the new CUPE collective bargaining agreement. Although the agreement was in place upon ratification by both parties, this marks the official completion of our bargaining process. I remain grateful to our bargaining teams for their collegial efforts in completing this important work.

Tuesday evening, the Englefeld Protestant Separate School Division Board of Education held their final monthly meeting of the 2015-16 school year. I travelled with Deputy Director/CFO, Lionel Diederichs and Superintendent of Finance Services, Marilyn Flaman to attend this last regular meeting of the EPSSD Board for this school year. Likely the most significant work from the meeting was the Board’s approval of the 2016-17 budget.

On Wednesday morning, Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw, Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski and I met with admin staff at Watrous Elementary School to review their Learning Improvement Plan. Following this, the Director’s Leadership Team (DLT) held our final meeting of the school year at the Manitou Beach golf club. In addition to sharing information and discussions with our school administrators, we also had the opportunity to welcome a number of individuals who will be joining the DLT next year, and a few who will be moving on. We recognized the retirements of Joanne Cunningham, Maynard Prosko, Dave Hill and Ken Koenig. Our system has been extremely fortunate to have these passionate educators and administrators serving students in Horizon for many years and we wish them all the very best in the next chapters of their lives. We also had the opportunity to thank Katherine LeBlanc, Jacquie Bergerman, Sylvia Nagy, Bev Closson and Lionel Diederichs for their work as members of the DLT. Many of these people are moving into new roles with Horizon and several will be leaving our system. All have served our DLT and our students extremely well.

The Board’s Governance Committee held a meeting at central office while I joined Randy MacLEAN and Cory Popoff in hiring a VP at Humboldt Collegiate. Many of our Trustees then travelled to St. Brieux School for lunch with staff as St. Brieux was one of our Celebration Day lunch winners at last fall’s opening day event. I do appreciate those opportunities as I find them a tremendous way for the Board and my office to show appreciation for our staff.

This was a busy week for staffing in Horizon and a number of announcements were made from my office. Kim Scharf and Jacquie Bergerman have each accepted the new positions of Literacy Coach on Horizon’s growing Literacy Team. The interviews for the Rose Valley School Principalship that I mentioned took place on Tuesday, resulted in Caitlin Hackl serving as Principal. Interviews were held for the position of Vice Principal at Humboldt Collegiate Institute on Thursday and we are happy to have David Millette accept that position. Lori Washkowsky-Lucyk, our current temporary Manager of Finance Services, has accepted the  newly dubbed, “Manager of Accounting Services” position. Finally, Jocelyn Armbruster has accepted the Principal position at George Gordon Education Centre. I would like to congratulate these individuals and state that I am excited to continue working with each of them in their new roles.

Departmental exams began for our high school students on Thursday, June 23, and will continue until Tuesday, June 28. I would like to wish our students the best of luck as these assessments continue. I know that as teachers, you have done much to help your students prepare and that your hard work and theirs will serve our global community well.

Have a great final week of 2015-16, everyone. Please continue to keep Cashtyn and his family in your thoughts and prayers.


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