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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
News Item

January 13, 2017 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

January 16, 2017

We began “This Week in Horizon” with a staff meeting at central office to discuss the recent report on educational governance and so that I could answer any questions staff had regarding the process. You may have seen a press release from our Board of Education last week, discussing this report and encouraging public feedback. In case you missed it, the Board’s press release can be found here. The Minister has asked for and has been collecting feedback for the last few weeks and Horizon’s Board wishes to spread the word and encourage input from its own stakeholders. As I said last week, if we don’t speak up, others will speak for us so Horizon’s trustees want to be sure that all voices are heard during this critical discussion of the future of education in Saskatchewan. Horizon has undergone great change over the last few years. We have experienced a renewed focus on collaborative practice, a Pre-K to grade 12 focus on effective literacy assessment and instruction, a systemic focus on professional growth, a renewal of technology and its supports in our schools, a reorganization of the reporting structure in the system that has led to effective and heightened accountability, a strengthened focus on efficiencies resulting from furniture, fuel, natural gas and purchasing consortiums, a shared services plan with education partners such as Englefeld Protestant Separate School Division and our First Nation authorities, a focus on effective practices for safe and caring schools and a shift to a needs-based budgeting process, to name only a handful of ways. For that matter, we have shifted our relationship paradigm with our union and non-union employee groups. We have changed our website, our school division logo and our processes to support human and finance services more efficiently and effectively. In so many ways, transformational change has been an ongoing practice of our system and, without question, would and will continue regardless of the depth of any type of review in our province. As Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein stated, “Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” In saying this, great and sudden change related to provincial education needs to be considered carefully and, as has been the appeal of the Minister to the public sector, views need to be courageously shared. Please feel free to visit the following link before January 23rd in order that your views are heard: http://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/public-consultations/share-your-thoughts-on-the-k-12-education-governance-review.

Following our staff meeting on Monday morning, my Senior Leadership Team (SLT) met to continue the discussion of the governance report on a more granular level in preparation for our Board’s table officers to speak to it during our February Board meeting. On Monday afternoon, I was joined in my office by Cory Popoff, Principal of Humboldt Collegiate Institute, to discuss our ongoing work related to assessment practice in Horizon. Cory is heading-up this effort to ensure that we have grade-level assessments in the number strand from grades 1 to 9 for our schools. In 2018-19, the province will be conducting assessments and the work of teachers in Horizon will support this implementation extremely well. I greatly appreciate Cory’s work thus far, which has seen great progress commitment to our Board’s assessment goal. As one of Horizon’s 3 Goals, along with Safe & Caring and Literacy, Assessment is a critical component of the work we do, allowing us to measure our students’ success and recognize areas for improvement.

I also welcomed Gerard Frison, teacher at William Derby School and President of the Horizon Teachers’ Association (HTA) to my office on Monday. Our meeting was an opportunity to further discuss items like the development of Horizon’s 2017-18 school calendar as well as discussions related to our teachers’ desires for Convention next year. We enjoy a great relationship with the HTA and I would like to thank Gerard and the HTA for continuing our collaborative efforts in support of our students and teaching staff.

On Tuesday, Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, Marilyn Flaman, and I joined our fellow school division Directors and CFOs for a meeting in Warman to discuss the ongoing development of the 2017-18 budget. The meeting was held by Ministry of Education personnel and provided preliminary information needed for all school divisions to begin planning their budgets for the next school year. Following our day long discussions, Directors of Education met to review and finalize our plan for presenting in front of the Governance Panel Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday morning and joined by a number of other Director colleagues, we met with the Panel to discuss the Perrins Report and its implications for the future of education in our province. We had the opportunity to provide our collective feedback to the six-person panel that has been assembled to hear stakeholder feedback on the report and provide that feedback to the Ministry. Following the meeting, I travelled to the Radisson Hotel to join the Aboriginal Council meeting which includes four of Horizon’s trustees, Sheryl Kayseas, Paul Crow-Buffalo, Nathan Bitternose and Albert Pinacie. This was the first of these meetings I have had the opportunity to attend and I appreciated the invitation from my trustees to be part of the committee. Following the meeting, the council presented to the Governance Panel and Horizon’s Board members certainly did a tremendous job of sharing the importance of the elected governance structure for our First Nations authorities.

A number of trustees took part in the “New Trustees Orientation” from Wednesday evening to Friday afternoon, facilitated by the Saskatchewan School Boards’ Association (SSBA). The PD event was a great opportunity for both new and veteran trustees to continue their understanding of the governance process in which the province is engaged. While trustees were engaged in this process, Wil Lengyel, Vice-Chair of Horizon’s Board of Education met with Board Chairs from across the province on Thursday, to discuss the Perrins Report. Wil stepped in for Jim Hack, Board Chair, as he was unavailable.

The latest of our Review of School Effectiveness (ROSE) events was held at Watson School on Thursday. Our ROSE events are a strategic process that gather feedback and data from staff, students, administrators, parents/caregivers, School Community Council (SCC) members and community members and celebrates the great things happening for our students, while identifying those areas necessary to support the school’s growth. Celebrating the school and hearing from stakeholders in the community provides us with an idea of how we can continue on our path from good to great. I would like to thank our ROSE team and principal, Jay Fitzsimmons and the staff of Watson School for the work that went into making this ROSE event a huge success. As we have with previous events, we will be sharing results from this ROSE process with our Board in future meetings and the feedback we receive provides invaluable data in support of the work the school staff does and will do in continuing their support of school improvement.

On Friday morning, I enjoyed a phone conversation with Elan Buan, Project Consultant and Research Analyst at Schollie Research & Consulting in Humboldt to discuss Partners Family Support Agency. We enjoy a great relationship with Partners and the business community in Horizon and this conversation was certainly an indication of that. I travelled to Bruno School Friday morning and met with Marie Moore, secretary and President of our CUPE Local. Marie and I had the opportunity to discuss the 2017-18 calendar and then took some time to share in a discussion related to the current state of governance in the province. Not unlike any of our employee groups, Horizon’s relationship with our CUPE union is extremely strong and I appreciate that Marie took time out of her schedule to engage in this discussion.

At central office, we have begun implementing the use of purchasing cards for staff in place of regular credit cards. These cards are a part of our ongoing efforts to streamline purchasing and save both administrative time and costs as part of the efficiency work our Board does in support of the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP). As we have moved and continue to move to the Government of Saskatchewan purchasing cards for Horizon School Division, another benefit we will see compared to a standard credit card is that we will gain rebates on all eligible purchases. On Friday, our Assistant Superintendent of Finance Services, Jeff Swanson, led a meeting of several members of our central office staff in order to walk us through the process of reconciling and coding monthly expenses on these cards. We were also joined in our meeting by Principal, Clayton Parobec and Secretary, Candace Burkart of Humboldt Public School, as they have been involved in our early roll-out of these cards. I would like to thank Jeff, Marilyn and the Finance Services team for their work to ensure this beneficial transition will run as smoothly as possible.

On Friday afternoon, I held a teleconference with my Director’s Leadership Team (DLT) to discuss encouraging public feedback on the education governance report. I appreciate that DLT members were available to take part in this important meeting on short notice, as we wanted to ensure that as many staff members, parents/caregivers and community members as possible were made aware of the opportunity to share their feedback on education governance with the Ministry.

To finish up the week on Friday, my SLT and LEADS members met once again to further discuss the governance report in order to provide documentation for our Board to consider prior to their meeting with the Ministry’s advisory panel later this month. We look very forward to the opportunity for our Board to share their important insights with this panel and share their view of what will be best for students, staff and families in Horizon. I am grateful the Board is so connected to their stakeholders and desires to not only share their views on behalf of stakeholders in our system, but to engage their stakeholders to publicly share their own paradigms. As anthropologist Margaret Mead stated, “Never doubt that a group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”   

Have a great week, everyone.   

- Kevin

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

Kevin.garinger@horizonsd.ca