This Week in Horizon » January, 2024

January, 2024

A message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

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Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you had an excellent Christmas break with your loved ones. I also enjoyed a nice break spending time with family. We began our Christmas in Humboldt, but on Christmas Day, travelled to Creighton to spend some time with my parents. It seems hard to fathom that, as we age, so too, do our parents. My mom and dad are 76 and although they are in great shape mentally, the years are starting to show their wear on them physically. I suppose my mother’s six bouts with cancer, the last just recently, make her only slightly less than able to be the cover photo for the Fountain of Youth. But she still demonstrates to us every day how important it is to be a servant leader…even amongst family. 

My dad hasn’t experienced many significant ailments in his life, until recently. He has been challenged with some back issues stemming from sciatica so he spends a great deal of time just trying to get comfortable enough to walk. He demonstrates to me the importance of commitment and perseverance and is still the first one up in the morning so he can do his exercises before anyone else is out of bed. He is also often the last to bed. He doesn’t ever want to waste a moment while he has the opportunity to make a difference in the world. He was a teacher for over 40 years, including the better part of a year working with students from Englefeld. He had a direct impact on students for well over half his life. His desire to make a difference in the world is a reminder to me that all of us can…no matter what role we play.

Nonetheless, both are still very active and like those of you who are fortunate to have your parents, I am truly grateful for the time I get to spend with them. My youngest son and his family, including my two granddaughters, live with me but were away for Christmas so it really was a perfect time to head north to my other hometown. I returned to all three of my sons and their significant others joining us for a wonderful New Year's celebration before the oldest two had to head back to their jobs they are so passionate about. I certainly hope each of you had a similar experience to me during this important time of the year.

Well, the first week back is behind us and I hope it was a great start to 2024 for all of you. As much as it was the first week with our children, I hear time and again from staff how much they value the Personal Professional Days, one of which was held on Friday prior to returning from the break. The division office was open over some of the holidays and most staff had a chance to get away for some time with friends and family. The unseasonably warm temperatures certainly made for ease of travel. This quote by Rainer Marie Rilke is a lovely way to think of 2024, “And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.”

Teacher Sanctions

As you know, the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) and the Government of Saskatchewan, through the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee, have reached an impasse in their negotiations for a new collective agreement. On Thursday, the STF gave notice of a province-wide strike to be held on Tuesday, January 16, 2024. So, barring any new developments between the two groups, there will be no classes for students on Tuesday. Transportation and extracurricular activities will also be cancelled.

Our Board and my office will always remain respectful of every STF member’s right to engage in the processes that are involved in reaching a collective agreement. We will continue to communicate with families and staff through email, text, on our website, and on social media channels. 

Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO

We bid farewell to CFO Sandy Gessner, whose term at Horizon School Division ended last month. We are extremely grateful for Sandy’s expertise and dedication, and so pleased that Sandy was willing to return to her home school division to finish her career. And with that goodbye, we are excited to welcome Sarah Reding back from her leave to lead the finance services team at Horizon. Welcome back, Sarah!

Board Agenda Meeting

We began the week with a meeting to prepare for next week’s Board meeting with Board Chair Linda Mattock, Vice Chair Mark Fedak, CFO Sarah Reding, COO Justin Arendt, Executive Assistant Marni Sogge, and Communications Officer Jesse Green. I always appreciate these meetings as they prepare us for the upcoming Board meetings. 

Audit Committee Meeting

The audit committee also met on Monday. The committee elected Jim Lissinna as committee chair. Also in attendance were Trustees Garth Anderson, Doug Armbruster, and Albert Pinacie, ex officio members Linda Mattock, and former audit committee chair Mark Fedak. Joining me from the Division office were Superintendents Sarah Reding and Cory Popoff, and Executive Assistant Marni Sogge. The committee had a very productive meeting and some of the notes will be included in January’s From the Board.

Ministerial Visit

Also on Monday, our Board of Education was pleased to host a meeting with the Honourable Jeremy Cockrill, Minister of Education as well as Mr Dana Skoropad, MLA for Arm River; Mr Travis Keisig, MLA for Last Mountain-Touchwood; Mr Todd Goudy, MLA for Melfort; and Mr Hugh Nerlien, MLA for Kelvington/Wadena. We were joined by the Senior Leadership Team who lent their expertise to support the discussions. We appreciated the opportunity to become better acquainted with the Minister of Education and to share Horizon’s challenges and successes.

Directors’ Leadership Team Meeting

The DLT met online for our first meeting of 2024. We discussed the ongoing negotiations between the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation and the government of Saskatchewan and our preparation for the outcome of this process, among other topics.

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 4799

I attended interest-based bargaining training and negotiations along with the CUPE Local 4799 members, including President Marie Moore, and Division staff including Sarah Reding, Cory Popoff,  and the Human Resources department. We had an excellent two days, and look forward to working together during future bargaining meetings. The Board of Education sets the mandate for these negotiations as per the Role of the Board found in Policy 2, sections 10.10 and 10.11. Our January Board meeting will be an excellent time to finalize some of the parameters as we continue our negotiation process. 

Student Transportation Working Advisory Group

I am part of a provincial advisory group that looks at student transportation in Saskatchewan, led by the SSBA. Along with representatives of the League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents, the Saskatchewan Association of School Business Officials, the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, and the Ministry of Education, we took time to review the advisory group history, our terms of reference, and set next steps toward dealing with student transportation issues in the education sector. 

To wrap up, I can’t help but end by talking about the greatest resource in our world…our kids. I know many of our staff, volunteers, and parents were busy taking them to club volleyball games, and basketball games, getting them ready for hockey, or preparing them for the next drama presentation or band trip. Many are also involved in other sports, music, and other arts-related events like dance clubs. Well, I thought it was pretty amazing to hear about a number of our Horizon students involved in the Foam Lake “Ukranian Malankya (New Year’s)” Dance. Our kids are amazing and I thank each of you, their “village”, for raising them to find their passions in so many amazing ways. Thank you, Horizon!

Have a great week, everyone! #HorizonStrong 


Kevin C. Garinger B.Ed., M.A.Ed., Ed.D. (Candidate)

Director of Education/CEO

Horizon School Division No. 205

[email protected]


Good morning, everyone!

Author Terri Guillemets said, “The colour of springtime is in the flowers; the colour of winter is in the imagination”. We are certainly seeing creativity and imagination both from our students and teaching staff as they engage in art clubs, mental health advocacy activities, and sports. 

Strategic Budgeting, Mitigating Risks Towards Aspirational Goals

Our Senior Leadership Team attended the League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents (LEADS) short course designed around strategic budgeting on Monday. The course focused on all aspects of the budget process and provided strategies and suggested methodologies for strategic preparation and management of school division finances.  Facilitators were Greg Chatlain, former Director of Education for Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, and Bob Bayles, Deputy Director/CFO for Prairie Spirit School Division, and the session was hosted by Ben Grebinski, LEADS Executive Director.

Teacher Sanctions

Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation members across Saskatchewan held a province-wide strike on Tuesday. We remain hopeful that the teachers’ union and government can resume talks and work towards a new collective agreement that will be in the best interests of both parties, but especially in support of the children and students of our great province.

January Board Meeting

The Board met for their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday. The majority of the Board joined virtually, a practice they typically do for one meeting during the year. If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it is that meetings can happen effectively through technology. However, like most of us who are engaged in regular meetings, face-to-face is the preferred norm. That said, it was a great meeting with important discussions related to several topics, including discussions related to boundaries and capital projects. We also heard from committee reports and had the opportunity to discuss our negotiation process with our staff who are members of CUPE Local 4799. Other takeaways from the meeting will be shared in the upcoming January issue of From the Board.

Lanigan School Update

COO Justin Arendt, Manager of Facility Services Kameron Kiland, and I met with the Lanigan school project team for an on-site meeting and update on Thursday. It is remarkable to see the progress that has been made, even during the frigid temperatures that made construction nearly impossible. Our contractor, Quorex Construction has been excellent as they “weathered” the extreme conditions. I will ensure some of our construction pictures are shared on our website to keep you apprised of the progress. The planned date for our staff and students to move into the new facility is spring of 2025, and I have very little concern that this date will be stalled given our ongoing discussions and the progress we are seeing. 

Humboldt Early Years Family Resource Centre (HEYFRC) Management Committee Meeting

I joined the HEYFRC management committee meeting along with representatives from the centre, PARTNERS Family Services, local libraries, the Humboldt Regional Newcomer Centre, the Saskatchewan Health Authority, local daycares, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the City of Humboldt, Carlton Trail College, and others. Kelly McLarty, Program Designer led the meeting along with Superintendent of Learning Trish Maxwell. Some new developments for the centre were discussed, along with additional programming options that have been implemented. 

Early Language and Literacy Plan (ELLP) Check-In

On Friday morning, Superintendent of Indigenous Education Bryan McNabb and Métis Language Coach Lester Gardiner joined the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan for a meeting with other program facilitators from across Saskatchewan for a check-in regarding the ELLP. Horizon has been fortunate to be included in this funding opportunity and we are excited to offer Michif language in Wakaw School beginning in January. Teacher Katelyn Hopkins has jumped into this leadership role in support of the program and our students and I know she will do an amazing job. We are excited to have this project off the ground and look forward to expanding it in some of our other Horizon schools in the near future.

George Gordon First Nation

Superintendent of Finance Sarah Reding and I met with George Gordon First Nation leadership on Friday morning to review our partnership and elements of the agreement document. We continue to discuss our long-standing relationship, which has been referenced as the first of its kind in Canada. Our shared focus on improving outcomes for our First Nation students living on the Nation and attending our Horizon schools was part of the discussion that also addressed the funding agreement between George Gordon and Horizon. It was a productive meeting that included leadership from Indigenous Services Canada who shared some of the funding challenges that exist in Saskatchewan. The group committed to further discussions of a similar nature, including an in-depth review of our current agreement. 

Volleyball Clinics

I had the pleasure of running two volleyball sessions last week; a referee clinic on Tuesday and a scorekeeping clinic on Thursday evening. Sports and the arts are critical for our students and though I am not able to find the time to coach athletes or lead a dramatic production, I am always glad to help aspiring officials learn more about how to officiate the sport of volleyball. Although the officials’ clinic had 10 participants, I was reminded that it is 10 more than we had before offering the clinic. The scorekeeping clinic was in-person and included 34 participants, both parents and athletes. 

We are finally out of the deep freeze…at least for a while. The cold weather certainly brought some challenges as Humboldt Public School and Lanigan Central High School were challenged with sprinkler systems breaking and causing water damage in both sites. I want to thank our facility staff led by Manager of Facility Services Kam Kiland and Superintendent of Operations Justin Arendt as well as our caretakers and fire departments for responding so quickly to the obvious challenges. I also want to thank Principals Paul Strueby and Jeff Stroeder who were on-site with staff members from both schools as they also worked to mitigate many of the issues.

And now, with those challenges somewhat behind us, and the warmer weather in sight, I especially look forward to our students being able to enjoy the outdoors in our winter wonderland we call Saskatchewan. Many of our schools are planning ski trips and the like, so I hope the conditions continue so they can enjoy these activities. As Yoko Ono said, “Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance”. Horizon students, families, and staff have very much persevered through the first cold spell of the year, and with it, we now find the opportunities that the season brings. I know we will enjoy them while we can!

Have a great week, everyone!


Kevin C. Garinger B.Ed., M.A.Ed., Ed.D. (Candidate)

Director of Education/CEO

Horizon School Division No. 205

[email protected]


Good morning, Horizon!

I hope you had a great weekend with many opportunities to enjoy the warmer-than-seasonal temperatures. 

Saskatchewan teachers held a second one-day strike last Monday after the continued impasse in negotiations towards a new collective agreement. This can be a difficult time, and I know that we all share a commitment to providing the best possible education for students. The Division is committed to keeping the lines of communication open throughout this process, but if there are any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office. 

Senior Leadership Team (SLT)

On Monday, the SLT met to focus on two critical areas. Our discussions on enterprise risk management aimed at identifying and mitigating potential risks that could impact our system, and budget priorities for the 2024-25 school year were a significant part of our discussions. Like most systems, the Board has already been working toward next year’s budget on the coattails of trying to finalize the current year's budget. This work has been ongoing and needs to be accomplished in order to plan effectively for each subsequent year of operations.  

Provincial Directors’ Meeting

I joined Directors of Education from across Saskatchewan on Tuesday for a virtual meeting, where we discussed the challenges and opportunities facing K-12 education. In these regular meetings, we also have the opportunity to hear from our LEADS executive director Ben Grebinski and Deputy Minister Clint Repski. A significant part of our focus has been on the current issues surrounding job action and deepening our collective understanding related to the decisions that must be made in addressing several issues that impact divisions. I always appreciate these opportunities to meet with these folks as system-to-system learning is critical for organizational success.

Canadian Association of School System Administrators (CASSA)

I had the privilege of representing Horizon and LEADS at the CASSA national strategic planning session during the latter half of last week. This gathering brought together CASSA’s board and executive, which consists of school system leaders from nearly every province in the country. Our goal was to discuss and collaborate on our strategic plan and to discuss crucial matters facing each of us in education. It was an invaluable opportunity to share insights, best practices, and innovative ideas with colleagues from diverse but similar backgrounds. We also had the chance to hear from Michael Zinck, Assistant Deputy Minister of the Environment and Climate Change for the federal government. He shared a great deal about how school divisions and teachers are using resources to help children understand the impact of climate change on our future. We also heard from a team from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, including Stephanie Sliekers, Manager, Simulation & Digital Innovation, Asha Maharaj - Director, Community & Continuing Education, Erin Lee - UX/UI Designer, Branka Agic - Scientist, CAMH Education Lead, and Fabienne Hargreaves - Simulation Education Experts. They have developed a tool to acquire data on the impact of mental health on schools and systems and are looking at systems across Canada to work with them. I look forward to continuing this work as a member of the executive on the CASSA Board, as well as sharing the knowledge and experiences gained during these opportunities as we collectively work towards making the world a better place, one student at a time. 

Have a great week, everyone! Enjoy the continued wonderful temperatures that we are expecting this upcoming week. As much as January came in like a lion, it is certainly going out like a lamb. I say this, but I am not foolish enough to forget that this is Saskatchewan, and our weather can change quickly. I certainly hope I didn’t jinx it.   


Kevin C. Garinger B.Ed., M.A.Ed., Ed.D. (Candidate)

Director of Education/CEO

Horizon School Division No. 205

[email protected]