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Horizon School Division
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January 6, 2017 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

January 09, 2017

Happy New Year! I hope you had a restful break with friends and family. Although I spent a big part of the break trying to recuperate from the bug that seems to be hitting so many across our system, I was fortunate to be able to enjoy a visit from my sons over the break and to spend some of it travelling to Edmonton and Lethbridge for short, but enjoyable stints with family. I had the full intention of finding time to get onto the ice in order to do some fishing, something I certainly would have enjoyed. However, the flu just wouldn’t let me get to it. I did get some reading done over the holiday and not feeling well and having to stay indoors certainly supported my choices to grab a book and read. Of course, like most of Horizon and Canada, I did take some time to enjoy the World Junior Hockey and thoroughly enjoyed watching Imperial’s own Connor Ingram and Kris Knoblauch in Toronto and Montreal battle for the international title.

As I begin my first “This Week” of the New Year, I want to thank a number of people for going above and beyond to ensure that one of our facilities was ready for students on the first day back to school. As the final preparations were being made to welcome students back to class last week, Humboldt Public School experienced an unexpected last-minute emergency that threatened to delay our students’ return. Last Tuesday afternoon, a sprinkler pipe burst outside the main office at HPS and flooded over half of the school. The flood set off an alarm in the school and Humboldt’s Fire Department was on the scene in very short order. I was also available to be there helping support the effort, along with a number of HPS staff and their spouses and children who grabbed shovels and squeegees in order to move water. It was truly inspiring to see when I walked into the school that afternoon. Principal, Clayton Parobec, Vice Principal, Darlene Popoff, and Scott Ewan of Facility Services, were on hand at different times throughout the process helping with cleanup and providing support to the effort. In addition to the Humboldt Fire Department and our staff, I would like to thank Kam Kiland, Manager of Facility Services and Justin Arendt, Superintendent of Operation Services for getting WINMAR Restoration and Troy Life and Fire Safety to the school and ensure the break was fixed, the sprinkler system was rearmed and the site was cleaned and ready the very next morning for classes to resume without interruption. Wouldn’t you know it but we had a similar, but less destructive water line break in Kelvington High Sunday, January 8th and again, I want to thank Principal Dale Hrytzak and his staff and volunteers as well as central office personnel who responded effectively to ensure most of the school was ready to go for students in the morning. Of course, broken pipes are not ideal ways to start a new year, but the collaborative response to these unexpected situations and the combined effort to overcome these challenges are certainly inspiring examples of what can be achieved when we work together.

As you know, Dan Perrins, long-time public servant and former Deputy Minister to the Premier of Saskatchewan, was tasked by the Ministry of Education to compile a report which reviewed options for governance in the education sector. He released his report shortly before the break (the report can be found here) and it makes recommendations to the Ministry regarding the future of education in Saskatchewan. We want to ensure that the voices of Horizon’s families and communities are heard in this process, so I would like to take this opportunity to bring your attention to the following website: The link provides a space to submit your thoughts and feedback on the Perrins’ Report, and ensure that you have a say in the future of education for Saskatchewan.

After a visit to Humboldt Public School in the morning to check on the status of the cleanup effort, I joined Deputy Director, Randy MacLEAN on Wednesday as we travelled to Viscount School to meet with Principal, Brad Knudsen and his staff. Mr. Knudsen will be serving as Viscount Central School Principal until after the Easter break as Ryan Heritage is away on an educational leave. Following the break, Brad will return to his previous role as Vice Principal of Lanigan Elementary School. After meeting with Brad at Viscount School, Randy and I travelled to Lanigan School for a short meeting with Principal Janice Fansher before returning to the office.

The Director’s Leadership Team (DLT) held our first Skype meeting of 2017 on Thursday morning. Our DLT is made up of school administrators, senior leaders (SLT) and members of our central office staff. We began holding the majority of these meetings via Skype last spring, and it has become a regular and, from any reports I’ve had, effective practice in 2016-17. It has certainly helped us cut travel and sub costs and any other expenses related to holding the meetings in-person. Of course, we continue to meet in person specifically for professional development purposes and our next opportunity is coming up in March. During last week’s meeting, I provided an update on the Perrins Report, as well as the ongoing development of the 2017-18 school year calendar. Randy shared information regarding upcoming School Community Council (SCC) workshops and staffing meetings. Along with reports and information from other SLT members, we also enjoyed a visit from former Principal of Humboldt Public School, Dave Hill. In his retirement, Dave continues to support students by working with the Junior Achievement program, which helps students develop their financial and leadership skills. The opportunity to discuss these and other important items made this DLT meeting a great way to return to our work together in 2017. Following the DLT, I had a meeting with Supervisors and Superintendents to further discuss the Perrins Report.

Following a phone meeting with Board Chair, Jim Hack, I had a teleconference meeting with personnel from the Ministry of Education Thursday afternoon to discuss the 2017-18 budget. Both Marilyn Flaman, Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO and I have been named to a committee which has been developed to review budget scenarios in preparation for a meeting between the Ministry and Directors of Education and Chief Financial Officers on January 10th in Warman. Both Marilyn and I will be part of the facilitation of the day and our meeting helped support the facilitation plan.

I was on the road to Regina on Friday morning and began my travels with a telephone meeting with Patsy Knafelc, Principal of Englefeld School. Following my discussion with Patsy, I joined a teleconference with fellow Directors from across Saskatchewan to discuss matters related to the ongoing Panel meetings related to the Perrins Report as well as plans for Directors to discuss the report as a leadership group. On arriving in Regina, I joined a meeting between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Central Services in order to understand the potential of both ministries working together in support of maximizing the potential for efficiencies in the Education sector. The meeting was in relation to the ongoing work I lead as a member of the Provincial Leadership Team (PLT) and Primary Owner of the Sector-Wide Efficiency Outcome.

Finally, it is with an extremely heavy heart that I send my thoughts and prayers to the community of Meacham as we reel from the tragic loss of the young Savage family in a highway collision last week. This horrible accident has had a far reaching impact in the Meacham and Viscount areas as well as across Saskatchewan. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the young family as well as to the family and friends of the semi driver during this extremely difficult time.

As we are into 2017 and fully recognize that we are in a year of great change in our province, I can’t help but reflect on the importance of having a voice. The changes in the Health Care certainly shed some light on the potential of change in Education. This is not meant to say that this is where the province is going but rather, it is a strong indication that a level of change is on the horizon. The Minister has asked stakeholders to share their paradigms regarding the transformation of Saskatchewan Education with him so he is able to better understand the necessary direction the sector should move. I encourage you to not only keep yourself aware of the education landscape but to share your insights and your views. It has been said many times, “If you don’t say anything, you need to be prepared to have someone else put words in your mouth.” The Ministry and the Horizon Board want each of you to share your perspective. The collective intelligence of many will certainly shed a necessary light on the best direction to go in order to ensure our students and staff are supported in the most effective way.

Have a great 2017, everyone.

- Kevin

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