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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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June 30, 2017 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

June 30, 2017

As this is my final "This Week in Horizon" for 2016-17, I find myself reflecting on the efforts of everyone in our system over the past 10 months. Unbelievably, we find ourselves at the end of another school year and there are so many celebrations from the work of our staff and students, I find it impossible to try to pull them together without giving each of you an entire summer of reading. Please know that as I write this, I am regularly recalling your individual student, classroom, school and system accomplishments and know that I, along with your Board of Education, are proud of each of them. No matter how great or how small they may appear to be, I am ardently aware that our success as a system begins with the success of one child in one classroom and blossoms from there. And so, I will begin…

One of the major celebrations of our Literacy goal involved our grade 1-8 data. As I have observed the success our system has made over the last three years, I am in awe. Our entire Horizon team owns this success whether your work is in our schools, on our buses, or in our Boardroom. Our work together has seen an almost 19% increase in our grade 1-8 data in just three years! This is truly humbling. I know there are many reasons for it but likely the biggest reason is the willingness of our staff at all levels to look deeply at what we are doing in support of our students and, when necessary, make changes to our practices in order to support the unique and very individual needs of children. I would be remiss if I did not mention another highlight that involved in our work with our Writer-in-Residence, Sigmund Brouwer. All of our schools across Horizon had the opportunity to work closely with Sigmund and his efforts with our teachers and support staff in engaging young readers and writers has been invaluable. Of course, his work was no more invaluable than with the Grade 10 class at Punnichy Community High School where their efforts as First Nations consultants on his latest book, Innocent Heroes; resulted in their names appearing in the book's dedication page and a spot in Global TV's "Focus Saskatchewan". Sigmund, along with First Nation hockey hero, Brian Trottier, travelled to a number of our schools but also returned to the Punnichy for the book's official launch party. These students, like so many others across Horizon, have seen significant growth in their literacy rates thanks to projects like this and thanks to the efforts of their principals and staffs and the support of our Literacy Team and the Board.

We began a new method of planning around Horizon's Strategic Plan and school Learning Improvement Plans (LIPs). This new method involved the use of "A3" documents, named for the size of paper they are printed on, which help to format strategic plans within an effective and easily updated document. I want to thank Ken Sogge, Coordinator of Information Technology Services and his team for their technological expertise that has led us to a successful implementation of the new LIP. Our school teams have become familiar with the process and I am seeing a significant commitment to keeping these documents living and breathing in our schools. We also furthered our work in Assessment, with Cory Popoff, Principal of Humboldt Collegiate Institute, working with colleagues and myself to lead the development of a number of new assessment tools in mathematics, which will be in use across the system next year. Darrell Paproski, Superintendent of Student Services and Katherine Oviatt, Supervisor of Literacy and Early Learning and their team have been preparing for the writing assessment in grade 4, 7 and 9 beginning the 2017-18 school year. I understand training dates have already been established and I look forward to sharing with our teachers in the next steps of this provincial-level work.

Our work as a Safe & Caring school division continued through events such as our third annual Holocaust Symposium and our recent Reconciliation Flag-raising ceremony held at central office on National Aboriginal Day. With the support of the Board and through Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw and his team, this work has been extremely powerful in cultivating a welcoming, respectful learning environment in our schools. I am proud to say that these events and others like them are helping to put Horizon on the map, so to speak, and highlight the remarkable staff and students we have within our system. We also took on 9 ROSE events in 9 schools this past year. It was a significant amount of work that our schools along with Crandall, Jan Paproski, Coordinator of Learning Services and Jason Neville, Supervisor of Student Services took on but the data principals and their staffs gleaned from the event was important, enlightening and affirming.

Of course, we rolled out new division and school websites this fall, helping us further engage with our families and stakeholders online. Human Resource Services and Payroll Services have been working hard to implement the AESOP absence-reporting tool for all staff, under the guidance of Deputy Director, Randy MacLEAN, Superintendent of Human Resource Services, Todd Gjevre, Human Resource Officer, Monica Arendt and Payroll Manager, Corinne Thoms. This program ensures that we are able to efficiently report, track, approve and ultimately pay for the costs associated to staff absence. Thank you to our HR and Payroll Services teams for your incredible work on this project and making absence management significantly more manageable for everyone in Horizon.

Our Board is moving forward with the construction of an office building in Humboldt, and our Superintendent of Operational Services, Justin Arendt, Manager of Facility Services, Kam Kiland, and their team have been working diligently to ensure that this project is on schedule. As I have said in the past few weeks, this is a very exciting project for all Horizon stakeholders. We will see annual cost savings from this investment and finally have a facility that can house our central office staff and other system-wide needs.   

This was also a year of change for Transportation Services, as we began a new contract with Southland Transportation. Manager of Transportation Services, Jocelyne Possberg, has done a commendable job of bringing us through this transition year, and we look forward to continuing to optimize our bus routing in the coming months. We also recently began trial runs for the in-city bussing service that will be available for Humboldt families in the fall. This project involved a great deal of planning for Horizon staff as well as a level of support from Greater Saskatoon Catholic School. I know that it will be of tremendous benefit for families in the Humboldt community. Combined with this work, we also entered into a fuel purchasing arrangement through the Ministry of Central Services procurement process with an expectation of finding efficiencies that could net us as much as $50,000 to $60,000 dollars per year.

Under the guidance of our Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, Marilyn Flaman, Assistant Superintendent of Finance Services, Jeff Swanson, and their team, we implemented purchasing cards for our staff and schools. These cards allow us to collect rebates on purchases and find other efficiencies through the purchasing and processing of expenses. With an increased focus on their use, we plan to save upwards of $80,000.

This fall, our staff facilitated a number of board elections and one by-election to determine our Board Trustees. This involves a great deal of work, planning and collaboration and I would like to thank Marilyn Flaman (who served as our Returning Officer) and her team for their efforts to facilitate this critical democratic process. As with my previous Board, I continue to blessed to have a Board who makes decisions in the best interests of for our students, staff and families and who does not abdicate their important responsibility to their stakeholders. As a system, Horizon, through their Board of Education, continues to recognize the importance of accountability and recognize the significance of celebrating a job "well done". 

Of course, this year came with its share of challenges. Within the Government of Saskatchewan's Transformational Change agenda, there was a question as to whether Horizon School Division would be around in its current form next year. Thanks in large part to the voice of our public, the government did not move forward with any large-scale school division amalgamations and equally significant, we have maintained our locally elected school boards. Due to the economic situation in the province, this year's budgeting process presented its own challenges, but we have worked very hard to ensure that the budget submitted to the Ministry is in line with the values and supports Horizon prides itself on. I cannot thank everyone enough for their work in putting together as positive a budget as humanly possible and I especially want to thank our Chief Financial Officer, Marilyn Flaman, who masterfully pulls all the ideas from the staff and the Board into a framework that is professional, understandable and succinct.

With the end of another school year, Board Chair, Mr. Jim Hack, has asked me to share the following message:

"As a Board, we could not be prouder of everything Horizon School Division has accomplished this year. To our staff, I say that your work, knowledge, leadership, teamwork and dedication are all greatly appreciated. Each and every staff member in our system contributes to the success of Horizon School Division, and the legacy of that work will be seen in the success of our students for many years to come. While we faced a number of challenges in terms of transformational change and budget this year, our staff and Board worked hard to ensure we maintained the level of excellent services for which Horizon has become known. I am extremely proud of this work and grateful to everyone involved. On behalf of the Board, thank you for everything you do.

I would also like to thank my fellow trustees. Their commitment and guidance continues to benefit our students, staff and stakeholders each and every day. Since this year saw an election and a by-election, we welcomed a number of new trustees to our Board. Our system has already benefitted from their contributions and leadership, and we look forward to continuing our work together in the fall.

In closing, I just want to say thank you, again, for another great school year. Enjoy the well-deserved summer break, and we look forward to seeing you in the fall."  

At central office this past week, we held a professional development session regarding the Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (LAFOIP) Act. We were fortunate to welcome Geraldine Knudsen, Solicitor with the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, who facilitated the session. That afternoon, I joined Deputy Director, Randy MacLEAN and Principal Deb Schwandt-Kelln in interviews for the position of Vice Principal at William Derby School in Strasbourg. We saw great candidates and I was pleased to announce that Ms. Marla Kelln has accepted this position. Congratulations, Marla on this new role at William Derby and joining the Director's Leadership Team (DLT).

On Tuesday, I travelled to Englefeld School to take part in interviews for an educational assistant position. I then met with the Englefeld LINC Committee for a brief meeting as we begin a process that will establish a new LINC agreement for teachers.

On Wednesday, the Education Governance Review: Organizational Staffing and Design Team held our weekly conference call. Immediately following, a special Board meeting was held at the Canalta Hotel in Humboldt. The meeting was an opportunity to discuss some emergent items just prior to the summer break.

I then joined Randy and Board Chair, Jim Hack, in interviews for the Principal position at Archerwill School. I want to welcome Loralie Hamel to the Director's Leadership Team as she will be taking over the principalship at Archerwill. Rick Hamel, our previous principal, will be moving to Rose Valley School next year and I look forward to his work in that role. Once again, I want to thank all the outstanding candidates we interviewed for the role. It is tremendous to see the willingness of our staff to step into these leadership positions.

A meeting was held in Regina on Thursday morning to discuss the Efficiencies Outcome and Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP). I was able to be part of the meeting and get back to Humboldt to be part of a necessary discussion regarding "green space" at HCI. I appreciate the City's willingness to engage with Horizon and GSCS in this work and I am expecting some significant movement toward providing outdoor space for our students in the upcoming months. On Thursday afternoon, I had the pleasure of joining the graduation ceremony held at Humboldt Collegiate Institute, where I had the chance to share a message and present their Student Recognition Award on behalf of trustee, Linda Mattock and the Board of Education. Graduation ceremonies also were held at Cudworth School, Three Lakes School and Watson School on Thursday and will be held at Annaheim and Wakaw on Friday evening. With the final graduation ceremonies taking place this week, I just want to congratulate this year's graduates once again. As you move on to the next phase of your lives, always remember how proud we all are of the fine young people you have become.

Of course, Friday was also Report Card Day and it sounds like we got them out without too many problems.

As we prepare to head into the summer months, I am reminded of a comment my grandmother always said. She told me, "Kevin, you can never say thank you enough." Therefore, I want to once again, thank the Board and the staff of Horizon School Division for everything you have done to make this another incredible year for our students and families. I hope your summer is filled with good books, great friends and plenty of well-deserved relaxation. I am planning to take a few weeks off and enjoy some fishing, some reading and some family opportunities myself. My brother Ken and his wife Jen (both former Horizon employees) will be coming for a visit from Alberta and I look forward to our time together.

So to each of you, have a fantastic Canada Day and a safe and restful summer! I look forward to seeing you again in August. In closing, I have to admit, August cannot come soon enough. Each of you has contributed to my deep love for my job and I am truly at my best when Horizon is working together in support of our students. For now, I will not wish your holidays or mine away as we do need time for ourselves and our families. However, I will say this…only 56 more sleeps!

Take care, everyone.

- Kevin

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