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Horizon School Division
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March 24, 2017 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

March 27, 2017

With the release of the provincial budget this past Wednesday, it has been a busy few days for all sectors across our province. In Education, many of us breathed a sigh of relief to learn that the government listened to the concerns and feedback of the public voice across Saskatchewan. Stakeholders provided clear support for maintaining democratically elected Boards and avoiding further large-scale school division amalgamations. Although the government retained locally elected boards, it was at a significant price as the sector will see cuts to Trustee remuneration through reduced Governance funding. With respect to amalgamations, minor boundary changes will be contemplated in the near future, focused mainly on the needs of divisions in the north as well as divisions in and around Regina and Saskatoon.

The provincial budget deliberations began when the Minister of Education held an embargoed meeting with Education stakeholders the morning of March 22 in an attempt to discuss the terms of the budget just ahead of its presentation in the legislature later that afternoon. I attended the embargoed session in Regina, along with Board Chair, Jim Hack, Vice Chair, Wil Lengyel, Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, Marilyn Flaman and Darrell Paproski, Superintendent of Student Services. Darrell attended in his role as President of the League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents (LEADS). An additional meeting regarding more detail surrounding the implications on our sector was called and held on Friday as CEOs, CFOs and Board Chairs joining the Deputy Minister of Education, Julie MacRae and her office staff. Julie and her Assistant Deputy Ministers provided some additional clarity for all school divisions’ relative to impact of the announcements on administration, instruction and governance.

The following update relates to the impact of the budget announcement for Horizon School Division and is far from a complete picture as we continue to learn more about its impact. You should be aware that the provincial budget came out and it was announced that a 1.2% reduction in education funding would exist. At first blush, this seems like a decent figure but one has to remember that the government fiscal year runs from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018. This does translate to $22 million across the sector. However, because school division fiscal years run from September 1 to August 31, the actual reduction in education funding is more accurately  reflected as $54 million. This reduction will pose a significant challenge to our entire sector that can only be addressed by working closely together with all other school divisions to realize even deeper efficiency savings. Work has already begun to establish provincial project teams to address areas, which include Education Act amendments, sector purchasing and services, organizational design and staffing and structural governance changes. I can assure you that Horizon School Division is and will continue to be committed as an active partner in supporting these process reviews.

The value of School Community Councils (SCCs) was reinforced through the allocation of targeted operating grant funding. The funding is conditional meaning that it must be used for this purpose alone. Historically, Horizon’s Board has shown strong support for SCCs, providing even more significant annual allocations of funding through their governance budget than is now being directed. This change in funding is intended to provide equity for SCCs in all divisions, many of which have not been supported even close to the level SCCs have enjoyed in Horizon.

Keeping a focus on the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) remains paramount in the funding plan of the sector. With declining dollars, it becomes ever more challenging to ensure the ESSP is adequately resourced. In Horizon, we have accomplished tremendous progress toward some of the targets in the ESSP and as established through our goals of literacy, assessment and safe and caring learning environments. Despite the challenges ahead, we remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring student success through the fiscally responsible allocation of the resources we have been provided. Every attempt will be made to limit the impact on the classroom as our focus remains always on the support of the diverse needs of each student entrusted to our care. I will continue to share updates as they become apparent.

On Monday, Horizon’s latest Collaborative Learning Day was held in Humboldt. As always, this day was a great opportunity for staff from across our vast system to come together with their peers and colleagues to learn and share ideas for improving the education we provide for students. I want to thank our staff who were part of the day for your eager participation and teamwork. I understand that many of you enjoyed the day to its fullest and that it effectively met your needs. Only by working with and supporting one another can we grow our capacity and strengthen our system, and these days are a great indicator of that belief. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting with some of our teachers who were in their collaborative groups as well as meeting for lengthier times with our beginning teachers group and our caretakers group. The biggest question on most everyone’s mind centered on what Horizon would look like post budget day. Although I cannot speak more specifically about what the budget has yielded outside what I have already shared, I do know that the will of the Board and my office is to ensure we maintain the most effective and strategic supports possible to ensure measurable student learning outcomes.

In the afternoon following Collaborative Learning Day, we held a Horizon Teachers’ Association (HTA) Liaison meeting. Joining our trustees, Jim Hack, Wil Lengyel and Christine Gradin and our staff of Deputy Director, Randy MacLEAN, Marilyn Flaman and me were HTA president, Gerard Frison and fellow teachers, Kelly Schermann, Rob Lissinna and Lynda-Rae Schmale. We enjoy a great relationship with the HTA, and that partnership and collaboration will be critical as we move forward following this budget.

The latest of Horizon’s Review of School Effectiveness (ROSE) events was held this past Tuesday at Humboldt Collegiate Institute (HCI). I want to thank Principal, Cory Popoff, Vice Principals Shaun Gardiner and Dave Millette, HCI staff, students and parents/caregivers for their feedback to help inform the work we do to support learning in the school. I also want to thank Principals, Terry Leibel, Terry Braman, Michele Presber, John Casavant, and Vice Principals, Brittany Ward and Kim Nicholls for attending this session as observers and to share their own learning with their own schools. I would also like to thank those members of my central office staff who attended and supported us throughout the day, including assistants, Deb Kuipers, Nicole Fitzpatrick and Shelley Schell and Superintendent of HR Services, Todd Gjevre, Randy MacLEAN, Darrell Paproski and Supervisor of Literacy and Early Learning Services, Katherine Oviatt. Special thank you is extended to Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw, Coordinator of Learning Services, Jan Paproski and Supervisor of Student Services, Jason Neville for their work to organize and facilitate this important day. My role was to lead the focus group discussions, which ranged from meeting during the day with approximately 50 students from grades 9 to 12, to meeting with support staff, to meeting in the evening with parents and SCC members. I also want to thank trustee Linda Mattock, who joined me for a couple of the student focus groups in the morning.

On Wednesday evening, following the embargoed budget meeting in Regina and a brief meeting to provide a budget update for my Director’s Leadership Team and central office staff, I travelled to Englefeld where the Board of Englefeld Protestant Separate School Division held their regular meeting for the month of March. Among other items, we had a great deal of discussion relating to the preliminary information surrounding the budget announcement and discussed a bussing matter that finally seems to be drawing to conclusion. I was joined at the meeting by Marilyn Flaman and Superintendent of Operational Services, Justin Arendt and, immediately following, Marilyn and I travelled to Watrous to meet with Horizon’s Board for a workshop regarding the further development of Horizon’s Mission, Vision and Values. Our work continued all day Thursday and concluded on Friday morning and I want to thank our Trustees for their dedication as they continue to provide direction for our system. I also want to thank Ms. Janet Wagner who facilitated the workshop with our Board and who supports continuous improvement work, such as LEAN, for our school division. Thursday morning, Randy and Justin joined us for a special meeting of the Board. The focus of the meeting was to complete the agenda from our March regular meeting and on addressing numerous items related to transportation and facilities.

On late Sunday evening, I travelled to Saskatoon for the 22nd National Congress on Rural Education in Canada. I am joining members of Horizon’s Board and educators and administrators from across our system who will presenting and listening intently to sessions focused on rural education. I am once again looking so forward to the conference as there are a number of students from Horizon schools and Englefeld School, who will be reporting on Congress sessions and presentations through the conference’s eJournalism project. You will recall that our students were given this opportunity at last year’s Congress, and Congress organizers were happy to invite our students back to attend and take part in the program once again. To our students involved in this work, and the teachers and administrators in their schools who will be supporting them, thank you for sharing your talents and creativity and for representing our divisions so well. You can follow along with their reports, interviews, videos and pictures on the team’s blog, at ejournalismhorizon.wordpress.com.

You may also remember from a couple of weeks ago that a crew from Global Regina visited Punnichy Community High School to film a segment for the program, “Focus Saskatchewan”, with students and staff regarding their work with Horizon’s Writer-in-Residence, Sigmund Brouwer. That segment aired this past weekend, and we could not be prouder of our students and staff for sharing how this powerful experience has impacted not only their literacy rates, but in so many ways, their lives. In case you missed the segment, it will be made available on the Focus Saskatchewan website in the coming days and I encourage you to listen in.

Finally, as I bring “This Week” to a close, I want to offer a few congratulations to Horizon’s students and staff. Congratulations to athletes for representing us so well at this year’s Hoopla. Teams from St. Brieux, Three Lakes, Foam Lake, Wynyard and Lake Lenore all advanced to the provincial finals this past weekend, and as always, their athleticism and sportsmanship has made us all proud. In fact, of the 7 teams at provincials, 5 won medals including two gold, one silver and two bronze. This is an incredible feat considering there were only 32 possible teams at Hoopla in 1A to 4A and only 24 medals handed out. That means Horizon had 22% of the teams at the provincials and took home 21% of the medals! This past week, we also learned that two of our teachers from William Derby School have had their work recognized with national awards. Mr. Lorne Gottselig and Mr. Gerard Frison each received a Youth Science Canada Distinguished Service Award. These gentlemen are two of only ten individuals across all of Canada presented with this honour. Gerard and Lorne have been heavily involved in science education and science fairs throughout their careers, and I want to congratulate them on this very well deserved national recognition.

Have a great week, everyone. 

- Kevin

Kevin C. Garinger  B.Ed., M.A.Ed.
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division #205
Kevin.garinger@horizonsd.ca