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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
News Item

March 16, 2018 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

March 19, 2018

I began this past week in a meeting with our Board's Audit Committee. This Committee is chaired by Trustee, Jolene Koopman, and includes Trustees, Mark Fedak, David Holinaty, and Paul Crow-Buffalo. The committee reviewed our financial report for the past six months, ending February 28 and took a close look at and held important discussion regarding the Governance budget for the current year. Each year, the audit committee also meets with their auditor to go through the preliminary audit discussion and to decide what, if any areas within the system, need to be more closely reviewed. It is an important process for our Board and management team as all aspects of the audit, including financials and processes, should be scrutinized in an organization. I also held a pre-meeting to discuss the Day Star tuition agreement. We were joined by our Trustee for Subdivision 12 and member of the Day Star First Nation, Paul Crow-Buffalo. Horizon's Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, Marilyn Flaman, and Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw. The Board has determined the need to review tuition agreements with all First Nation partners with a view to update them and bring them into line with all practices.

Executive Assistant, Marni Sogge and I sat down to review the budgeting process in preparation for the 2018-19 school year. Horizon's budget development is getting into full swing in anticipation of the provincial budget announcement on April 10 and the work that will support the Board in setting the 2018-19 budget. I then met with Horizon's Manager of Facility Services, Kam Kiland, and Mary Anne Phipps from Grand & Toy for a conversation about our furniture and equipment needs for the new administration building. As much as possible, we will be reusing our existing furniture in the new office space, but there will certainly be a need for some new furniture/equipment in a few areas.

Following this, I had separate phone conversations with Mr. Domenic Scuglia, Director of Education for the Regina Catholic School Division and with Mr. Don Rempel, Director of Education for Northeast School Division. Dom, Crandall, and I met with curriculum coach, Mr. Larry Mikulcik, in preparation of the Holocaust and Human Rights Symposium while the meeting with Don was concerning the upcoming Math Outcome Sharing Day on May 8, 2018. I joined Trustees, Jolene Koopman, Jennifer Lemky, and David Holinaty at Cudworth School for our latest Celebration Day Lunch. We were also joined by staff members from central office to help supervise students over the noon hour while staff enjoyed a lunch courtesy of our Board. It is always great to have our staff and Board spend time in our schools and our Celebration Day lunches are just one of the many ways our Board works to show staff how much they are appreciated.

I travelled back from Cudworth for a meeting with Gerard Frison, teacher at William Derby School and President of the Horizon Teachers' Association. Gerard and I hold regular meetings many times throughout the year in order to address matters that are significant for our teachers and our system. I am grateful for the commitment Mr. Frison has to the students and the teachers of Horizon School Division and our meetings usually head off a number of potential issues before they gain traction. Horizon is in as good a place as any organization can be because of the willingness for honest and transparent dialogue and trusting relationships.

Horizon's Board of Education held their regular March meeting this past Wednesday, in addition to their Annual Meeting of Electors. With recent changes to the Education Act, it is no longer a requirement for Boards to hold an annual meeting, but our Board chose to conduct the meeting with a view to ensure transparency and trust in stakeholders. Board Chair, Jim Hack, shared a few words to begin the annual meeting, then I had an opportunity to share a few highlights from the 2016-17 school year. More information on the annual meeting, as well as a link to Horizon's 2016-17 Annual Report, can be found here. With the annual meeting adjourned, we continued our regular meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

My Senior Leadership Team (SLT) met for much of the morning on Thursday, discussing a number of pressing items for our system, including Attendance Matters and graduation rates. We took a brief break from the SLT meeting to join a Provincial Attendance Working Group teleconference with personnel from the Ministry of Education and Directors from across the province. I also stepped out of the SLT briefly for an interview with Bolt FM relating to Horizon's 2016-17 Annual Report. The interview, which can be found here, focused on our division's work in support of school buildings through capital projects, including a major amount of work in the decommissioning of a large, old section of Rose Valley School. It is never easy demolishing old sections of buildings as many who still reside in our communities remember when the section was used as students. However, the cost to maintain it and bring it to an acceptable level or standard becomes unmanageable and economically, cost prohibitive. We were able to renew a small section of the school and this has been important for our current children, parents, staff, and community. 

On Thursday afternoon, our Central Office Administration Team (COAT) met to continue our study and discussions around the book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni. I greatly appreciate the conversations that have come from this book study, surrounding ideas of what it means to be an effective organization built on trust and accountability.

On Friday, the Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan announced a $40 million dollar investment in early learning and child care systems for the province of Saskatchewan. You can read more about this announcement in the official media release, here. I am grateful that our governments are investing in child care supports for families in our province, but I am still trying to determine to what degree this 3-year contract will impact children and/or families in our school division. We will continue to review and hold discussions around the impact of this agreement in the near future.

In closing this week, I would like to leave you with a few inspiring words from the late Stephen Hawking. Mr. Hawking was not only one of the great scientific minds of his generation; he was also an embodiment of the resilience and power of the human spirit. Speaking about our need to work together, he said: "Speech has allowed the communication of ideas, enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible. Mankind's greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn't have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking." 

Have a great week, everyone.

- Kevin

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