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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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May 12, 2017 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

May 16, 2017

I want to begin This Week by recognizing the important contribution to learning mothers play in the lives of children. As Sunday was Mother’s Day, it is fitting to recognize the fact that every mother and surrogate mother in Horizon School Division has and continues to be, in so many ways, a significant member of our Horizon team. I have always stated that the first educators of our children are their parents. “Moms” everywhere deserve credit for the work they do in supporting our children and youth. Abraham Lincoln put it best when he said, “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” I want to share a brief story of four “angel” mothers from one of our communities who epitomize Lincoln’s sentiment. A young man in high school was living with his girlfriend’s family. After a time, the relationship broke down and this young man had to move out of his girlfriend’s home. It was devastating on many fronts but especially considering he had no place to go and was without funds to manage necessities of life. Well, four mothers from the greater community took turns sharing their homes with the young man. They fed him, clothed him and supported him toward getting a driver’s licence. Truly, they were angel mothers to this young man and I know the experience has changed his life forever. As Director, I can only hope to make a similar difference in the lives of our young people. I want to wish a very happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and surrogate moms across Horizon and beyond. An unknown author once said, “To the world you are a mother, but to your family you are the world”. To all the moms reading this, I hope you had a great day on Sunday, marked by loved ones showing their appreciation for everything you do.

This last week in Horizon began Monday morning with a meeting of my Director’s Leadership Team (DLT). As has been the process for the majority of our meetings, the DLT met via Skype. We had the opportunity to discuss a number of important matters that relate to our system, including upcoming Senior Leadership evaluations and preliminary information relating to the 2017-18 budget. At this same time as we were meeting, teachers across Horizon began their spring Fountas and Pinnell assessments. I will be eager to review the data with our principals and staff once this important assessment practice is completed.

Following our DLT meeting, I had the chance to conclude the 7 Habits for Highly Effective People training I have been facilitating for members of our central office staff. Many of our staff members and schools have gone through this 7 Habits training in order to review processes that can help us find effectiveness in both our work and our personal lives.

On Monday afternoon, I travelled to Englefeld School for a meeting with Principal, Patsy Knafelc. As is the case in Horizon, Patsy and I were able to take some time to discuss budget and to review current and future staffing levels in Englefeld. Following this opportunity, I met with Horizon Teachers’ Association President and William Derby School teacher, Gerard Frison. We continue to have an excellent relationship with the HTA and much of that is thanks to the work and relationship building done on the part of the HTA executive and Horizon’s staff and Board.

On Monday evening, I had the great pleasure of attending the Humboldt Music Festival Final Awards Concert at Westminster United Church. The talent on display at this concert was truly exceptional, and I know these students, their teachers and their families are extremely proud of the accomplishments and performances the packed church witnessed.

Earlier this month, we learned that Horizon School Division was selected to share our processes and practices relative to the Early Years Evaluation (EYE) assessment tool. On Tuesday, we were joined by the Provincial Auditor to review this information in great detail. Darrell Paproski (Superintendent of Student Services), Katherine Oviatt (Supervisor of Early Learning Services) and Marilyn Flaman (Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO) joined me as we shared the exemplary work in Horizon by our pre-K/K teachers and support staff and that is supported by our principals and literacy and early years team.  

First thing Wednesday morning, I joined a teleconference call with the Educational Governance Review “Organizational Staffing and Design” team. The team has been continuing work to establish the processes that will see a contracted resource review compensation of managers and senior staff as well as to continue a review of Board member compensation. We spent the majority of the meeting discussing out-of-province travel and potential approval processes for this to be managed.

Horizon’s Board of Education met for their regular monthly meeting on May 10. This was a very productive meeting with a full agenda, and so the Board will be meeting once again on May 29 to continue discussing one major agenda item in deeper detail…the budget. During our May 10 meeting, we were joined via Skype by the principal of Punnichy Elementary, Dawn Liska, and the principal of Watson School, Jay Fitzsimmons, who shared about how their schools have utilized data from their Review of School Effectiveness (ROSE) events. In the words of Jay, they have been focused on moving their schools “from great to greater”. We were also joined by Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw, who presented his accountability report to the Board. Other items for discussion included transportation matters, facility matters and items relating to Board governance. As always, the guidance of our Board is greatly appreciated and our Trustees continue to do great work in support of our students, staff and families.

Last week, I mentioned that I needed to share information with the Board related to a meeting Marilyn and I held with our landlords, Olymel, Inc. Horizon is leasing space until February, 2019, at which time, it was made clear that Olymel’s expansion efforts would result in a need for them to occupy our current office space in their building. In having a vision of becoming the largest hog producer in Canada, they require additional space for their staff and wish to take over the entirety of their facility. Given this news and the fact that there are very few options within the city of Humboldt to rent or lease, Horizon’s Board is required to consider finding a new lease arrangement or building a new facility. As you may be aware, the Board made a decision over a year ago to build a central office from funds they had put away a number of years ago, but it was put on hold while the government considered the possibility of school division amalgamation. With “transformational change” clearly no longer an issue for Horizon, our current Board is exploring all options that will best meet the needs of our system. Currently, the Board owns 4 acres of land across the street from the Olymel building and Marilyn, Justin Arendt (Superintendent of Operation Services) and Kam Kiland (Manager of Facility Services) are working with me on a briefing that will be presented to the Board at their May 29th meeting. Finalizing a plan for relocation has now become a time-sensitive matter and one that the Board will requires data on cost of ownership versus cost of leasing/renting in order to make an informed decision. There is a significant cost for leasing the Olymel space, as well as significant costs associated to rental of outside facilities to house staff training and professional development. It is extremely likely the Board will finalize a “go-forward” plan immediately following their review on May 29th. I will share what I can shortly afterward.

Following our Board meeting, our Trustees and Senior Leadership met for our annual supper and with representatives from CUPE Local No. 4799. Our Board enjoys a very positive relationship with CUPE developed through heightended collaboration and mutual trust relationships.

In addition to our Board meeting, May 10 was also a busy day with the final polls in the Subdivision 5 by-election. Our democratically elected Boards are critical to the work of our system in supporting and giving voice to our local communities. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Keri Helberg for her interest in running for the Horizon Board and to congratulate and welcome our newest Trustee for Subdivision 5, Ms. Lori-Anne Proznick. I look forward to her immediate call to office, which began upon the public announcement of the election results. Our Returning Officer, Marilyn Flaman and her team did a commendable job of coordinating and conducting the by-election and I want to thank each of these folks for their work in ensuring the election was completed without issue. I think it is important to note that Horizon saved significant costs by housing the polling stations in Board owned facilities (wherever possible) and by using our own staff as officers.

On Thursday morning, I was in meetings with staff at the office and had an opportunity to catch up on a number of items before heading to Saskatoon for a Health and Education Joint Meeting with the Saskatoon Health Region. Mr. Dan Florizone, CEO of Saskatoon Health and Dr. Cory Neudorf, Chief Medical Officer for the region shared their insights into collaborative practices necessary for education and health to sustain success in the Health Promoting Schools initiative. I will continue on this collaborative team in support of this important enterprise.

Friday was also another busy day for a number of schools across Horizon. At Watson School, the first “Resc-U 911 Day” was held, and students there were joined by students from Wadena Composite, Quill Lake, Archerwill, Annaheim, Lake Lenore and Rose Valley for a day of demonstrations and activities relating to first responders and safety practices. I would like to thank Jay Fitzsimmons and his staff at Watson School for coordinating the event for our students. I also want to extend my appreciation to our community partners from the RCMP, Fire Departments, EMS and others for sharing their knowledge with students in order to spread the important message of safety.

As this was happening in Watson, Bruno School held their first “Leadership Day” in celebration of their work as a “Leader in Me” school. The day began with a presentation from Mr. Ernie Louttit, who shared a message about the power of strong leadership. Following a number of leadership activities throughout the day, they wrapped-up with a Leadership Assembly for students, families and community members to learn more about the 7 Habits from student presentations, songs and performances. Students from Humboldt Public School and Imperial School were also able to take part in this great day. I want to take the opportunity to thank principal, Lianne Borstmayer and her staff of Bruno School for coordinating this great event and helping our students share the work they have done as leaders this year. Wakaw School received exciting news as they were awarded a $10,000 grant to support projects within their school; a similar amount Punnichy Elementary School received a few months back related to an art program they are developing.

Finally, I want to congratulate Horizon athletes who competed in provincial championships this past weekend. Brooke Johnson and Jeremy Junk from Annaheim won silver medals at the Badminton provincials held in Weyburn. Two Annaheim students also competed in the National 17U/18U Volleyball tournament, Theo Kolkman and Luthando Koyana. A number of athletes were successful at the recent gymnastics competition in Saskatoon over the weekend. Katie MacLEAN, daughter of Deputy Director, Randy MacLEAN, finished with a Bronze medal while Vice Principal of HCI, David Millette saw his daughter Marie win gold. Finally, Paige Wuchner, grade 7 student at Muenster School, won a gold medal. Activity for our students, whether in school or not, is critical to their overall development and I want to thank coaches everywhere for providing these experiences for our children. 

Have a great week, everyone.

- Kevin

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