Remembrance Day for me, is an opportunity to reflect on how fortunate I am to be a citizen of a free and peaceful country. I have been fortunate to get to know a Syrian family who is living in one of our Horizon communities. In listening to their experiences while living in their own country, I am even more grateful I live in Canada and even more grateful for the men and women who have fought and continue to fight for our liberty. For those of us in education, I truly believe it is our duty to ensure that each generation learns about, honours, and remembers those who have provided this freedom. Through poetry, art, and ceremony, our students, staff, and communities commemorate those who have and who are still providing this service to our country with pride. In the words of the former Prime Minister of Canada, Lester B. Pearson, "…we live together in confidence and cohesion; with more faith and pride in ourselves and less self-doubt and hesitation; strong in the conviction that the destiny of Canada is to unite, not divide; sharing in cooperation, not in separation or in conflict; respecting our past and welcoming our future."
I began last week by joining in a conference call with the Provincial Attendance Working Group first thing Monday morning. As part of the sub-committee from the sector, our mandate is to examine ways to increase attendance for all students. We are very aware of the impact of attendance on graduations rates, either as a causal or a correlative relationship. This is certainly a systemic concern that exists in Horizon and in many divisions throughout our province. I am grateful to have a staff and a Board who will stop at nothing to improve these results; knowing that the improved results mean greater opportunities at success for our students.
Following our conference call, I joined Horizon's Board for their Organizational Meeting and regular monthly meeting. During the Organizational Meeting, votes were cast for the Board's table officers (Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson). Mr. Jim Hack was re-elected to the position of Board Chair, while Mr. Wil Lengyel returned to the position of Vice-Chair. In addition to determining the Board's Table Officers, the Org Meeting was also an opportunity for our Trustees to discuss indemnity rates, incidental rates, and other organizational items. During the regular meeting, our Board held discussions on a number of important issues, such as resolutions to be voted on during the Saskatchewan School Board Association (SSBA)'s Fall General Assembly, the province's Out of Province Travel Policy, and Horizon's draft annual report. The Board engaged in an important discussion regarding the disaggregation of data that exists within the annual report. The current practice is to publish First Nation results separate from Non-First Nation results. To me, there is a moral imperative in conflict. First, I believe we do need to disaggregate the data. For those of us in education and for our families and our Chiefs and Councils, I feel it is imperative that we understand how our First Nation students are doing in the same way it is important for us to know how our English as an Additional Language learners are doing. We examine data as a system; school by school, classroom by classroom, and child by child in order to make the best decisions we can for our students and families. However, sharing this information publicly is a different matter and one that requires professional discourse. The practice will be examined at the provincial level and I am grateful for the Provincial Leadership Team's willingness to engage this discussion.
On Tuesday, a media release
was sent out from my office detailing Horizon's September 30 enrolment numbers as reported to the Ministry of Education. This year, our total number of students enrolled in PreK-12 in Horizon is 6382. Our overall student count is up by one from last year's reported enrollment and as I stated in Tuesday's release, we are in an excellent position to support the learning needs of all Horizon students. For this, I need to provide thanks to the work of our Horizon staff and the support and guidance of our Board of Education.
On Wednesday, I began the day with an Education Governance Review (EGR): Organizational Staffing and Design Team meeting followed by a full-day meeting of my fellow Directors of Education from systems across Saskatchewan.
On Thursday, the Provincial Leadership Team (PLT) of Directors and Ministry personnel gathered in Saskatoon for a meeting and data wall walk. In addition to reviewing the sector's data as it relates to the goals and outcomes of the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP), our meeting was also an opportunity for the PLT to discuss the upcoming presentation to Trustees at the SSBA Fall General Assembly. Generally speaking, very little will change for this upcoming year, outside of the change to the Sector-Wide Efficiency Outcome that has moved to becoming a "supporting outcome" in the ESSP.
With no school on Friday, a majority of our schools held their Remembrance Day services on Thursday. I am always impressed by the work of our students, staff, Legion members and volunteers and I am grateful for the opportunity for reflection and remembrance. Many of our students were engaged in sport throughout the day on Friday, as Boys Conference Volleyball and Girls Regional Volleyball championships were held across the province. The provincial football finals were on as well and I want to congratulate Raymore School for capturing their 8th provincial title. It is certainly an amazing accomplishment for the athletes, coaches, and community. I also want to extend my congratulations to all of our Horizon athletes, including those who will be advancing to Regional and Provincial competitions following this past weekend's volleyball matches. Finally, I would also like to commend the SHSAA for coordinating with the Royal Canadian Legion, Saskatchewan Command to ensure that students, staffs, and spectators had the opportunity to pause and reflect on Remembrance Day. Like many, I believe their decision to ensure that matches did not start until 1pm on November 11th was a proactive one. I also recognize the need for further discussion in the future. The joint release from the SHSAA and Royal Canadian Legion can be found here
On Sunday evening, I joined our Trustees and Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, Marilyn Flaman, in Regina for the SSBA Fall General Assembly. We started the event with a Horizon Board PD event put on by Geraldine Knutson, legal counsel for the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, who provided a workshop Sunday late afternoon on "Conflict of Interest". The 3-day event will conclude on Tuesday and I look forward to a number of interesting discussions around the future of education in our province, and to hearing from a number of delegates and Trustees from across Saskatchewan including our own trustees from Horizon and Englefeld.
With a day in lieu on Monday for Remembrance Day, I hope you have a great long weekend full of reflection and remembrance. We also have the opportunity to enjoy some relaxation, due to those who have given their lives fighting for our freedom. Lest we forget. As Robert Laurence Binyon so eloquently put it in his poem entitled, For the Fallen, "They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning: We will remember them."
Have a great week, everyone. Lest we forget.
Kevin C. Garinger, B.Ed, M.A.Ed
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205Kevin.firstname.lastname@example.org