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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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December 1, 2017 - A Message From Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

December 04, 2017

As we end this week with the first day of December, I am drawn immediately into the holiday season, recognizing it as the time of the year for giving back to those less fortunate. I know our Board and our staff will be very involved this way, as is the case for the past 4 years, with their Christmas Hamper project. At last count, approximately 308 children and 113 families will be supported through a project that results in a Board contribution of $5000 toward the effort. The rest of the money necessary for meeting the enormous requirement is raised through the incredible generosity of personal donations from the Board and staff as well as contributions from local businesses. I know our schools supplement this work in a myriad of ways but if any individual school staff wish, they can provide a donation by sending an email to Corinne Thoms, Manager of Payroll Services at Corinne will help you with your donation by setting up a payroll deduction and a resulting tax receipt in support of this very worthy cause. Over the past 3 years, Horizon has raised nearly $40,000 and supported 239 families and 562 children. This year will be our greatest number of children and families in need so support from our greater Horizon family will be appreciated. On Sunday night, the recognition of those who have been incredibly generous was once again, brought into focus. Our local Syrian family, who have been in our system for a year now, held a one year anniversary event in honour of the many people who have supported them. I know this wonderful family and although they have endured more than most of us will in a lifetime, they give selflessly and have enriched my life and the lives of so many. I remain grateful for the generosity of those who have brought them into our lives.  

The Board’s Audit Committee consisting of trustees, Paul Crow-Buffalo, Mark Fedak, Wil Lengyel, and David Holinaty (Audit Committee Chair), held a meeting at central office on Monday morning of last week to review Horizon’s Audited Financial Statements for the period of September 1, 2016 to August 31, 2017. The audit findings, completed by Horizon’s external auditor Myers Norris Penny (MNP), are included within Horizon’s Annual Report for the 2016-17 school year. For the first time since I have been Director, we were fortunate to have the Provincial Auditor as part of our processes. Every year in school divisions across the province, the Provincial Auditor provides a deeper review of the auditor’s processes. Essentially, their role is to scrutinize the processes of MNP and to ensure everything they report regarding our financial statements, is accurate. Thank you to the Board, the Audit Committee, the Finance Services team, under the leadership of Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, Marilyn Flaman, and MNP for the work to complete this year’s audit. I am happy to report that Horizon has received a “clean” audit.

Following our Audit Committee meeting, the Board held a special meeting to review and approve the non-financial components of the Annual Report as well as to approve the recommendation of the audit committee to approve the audited financial statements. Trustees who were not already in Humboldt joined the special meeting via conference call. With their Annual Report approved, it has been submitted to the Ministry of Education for their final approval. The Minister of Education will then table all school division annual reports in the Legislature later this December. The document highlights our results and progress related to the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) and Horizon’s own Strategic Plan, providing a snapshot of our accomplishments from the previous school year. I want to thank the Board, for their leadership and my staff, for their collaborative efforts on this critical report. In particular, I want to thank Lance Hiltz, Communication Services Officer, for his outstanding ability to pull the sections of the report together and for going back and forth with the Ministry to ensure the final product was polished.  

On Monday afternoon, I travelled to Muenster School along with Darrell Paproski, Superintendent of Student Services, and Crandall Hrynkiw, Superintendent of Learning Services, in order to review the school’s Learning Improvement Plan (LIP). This was a very productive meeting and I want to thank Principal Dennis Gerwing and his staff for their ongoing work and planning to develop their LIP. With our LIP review completed in Muenster, I returned to central office for a meeting with Deputy Director of Education, Randy MacLEAN. That evening, I also had the opportunity to meet with Gerard Frison, teacher at William Derby School and President of the Horizon Teachers’ Association (HTA). Gerard and I enjoy productive meetings and among other items, we were able to review the initial plans regarding the 2018-19 calendar.

I fully expect to share more information with staff on the potential options for the calendar in the next few weeks, especially now that the dates for teachers’ convention, August collaboration day, and celebration day were nailed down as a result of the recent survey Horizon staff completed. Staff have indicated that they prefer the beginning of the week for these three days so our calendar will reflect this perspective. I am grateful that through the survey, staff have appreciated the value our Board places on staff recognition relative to their years of service to children in Horizon. The honest and open responses of our Horizon staff spoke clearly to the culture in our system and to the important work that will always be necessary to ensure this culture remains a focus. Nearly 75% of staff saw the value of the recognition as good to great where as 94% were in the 3-5 range. This is certainly tremendous data and we will continue to look at ways to recognize staff while ensuring we continue to find efficiencies.

I spent much of the remainder of this past week with Crandall, Darrell and a number of school administrators, reviewing our schools’ LIPs. On Tuesday, we visited St. Brieux School, Three Lakes School, Lake Lenore School, and Annaheim School. On Wednesday, we made our way to Wakaw School, Cudworth School, Bruno School and Viscount Central School. On Wednesday morning, I joined a conference call with the Educational Governance Review: Organizational Staffing and Design Team, as we discussed the next steps in the review that was conducted relative to compensation for trustees and management staff. Our LIP review meetings continued on Thursday as we travelled to Lanigan Central High School, Lanigan Elementary School, LeRoy School and Humboldt Collegiate Institute, and on Friday at Wadena Elementary School, Wadena Composite School, Lakeside Colony School, Quill Lake School and Watson School.

With everything we do in Horizon School Division, fostering effective relationships plays a key in establishing the necessary teamwork and collaboration that are critical to our success. As famed curriculum specialist, Heidi Hayes Jacobs stated, “What we’re looking for are smart, savvy, steady, well-informed, but boundary-breaking steps to create the type of learning environments that our kids need”. Our school learning improvement plans are an excellent example of that collaboration and on behalf of our students, families, communities, and staff, thank you to everyone involved in developing and implementing learning improvement. Your dedication to this work helps to improve the conditions for our students, the benefits of which, will be seen for many years to come.

Have a great week, everyone.

- Kevin

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