This Week in Horizon » February, 2024

February, 2024

A message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education
Please click the arrow below to read each week's message:

Good morning, everyone.

Wiarton Willie the groundhog did not see his shadow on Friday morning, so according to folklore, spring is on the way. I think we all know Saskatchewan weather well enough to know we are likely not finished with our winter boots and coats for the year. However, I prefer to believe in the lore and the weather we are experiencing certainly brings us great hope. 

Teachers’ Strike Day in Horizon

Horizon teachers held a one-day strike on Thursday as part of a rotating strike plan by the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF). Our Directors’ Leadership Team met on Monday morning to discuss the matter of strike absences with Superintendent of Human Resources Cory Popoff and myself. The impacts to families and staff on short notice can be significant and communication regarding the action was sent to our parents and all of you very soon after we were made aware. We will continue in this important direction so plans for children and students can be addressed by their caregivers while continuing to hope for an amicable conclusion to these actions. The STF has announced another rotating strike on February 7th, but it will not impact Horizon students and staff. 

Governance Committee Meeting

Our Board’s Governance Committee, led by committee Chair Jennifer Lemky, met on Tuesday morning to discuss the Board Appraisal Process, Horizon’s Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility policy, among numerous other topics. Committee members Jennifer Lemky, Paul Crow-Buffalo, Christine Gradin, and Dana Stefanson were joined by ex-officio members Linda Mattock and Mark Fedak, and staff including CFO Sarah Reding, Executive Assistant Marni Sogge, and myself. The committee also had significant discussions regarding Policy 7 - Board Operations, including a significant overhaul of the policy that will be discussed at the next regular meeting of the Board.

Election Committee Meeting

As 2024 is an election year for our Board of Education, the Election Committee met on Tuesday to review boundary maps, timelines, and processes. Trustee Jenna Hale was elected as Chair, and Committee members include Garth Anderson, Christine Gradin, and Jennifer Lemky, along with ex-officio members Chairperson Linda Mattock and Vice Chair Mark Fedak. Staff at the meeting were Sarah Reding, Marni Sogge, and me. A great deal of discussion was held related to the committee’s terms of reference and potential polling stations. More information will be shared as the committee continues to discuss the next steps in the election process within Horizon. 

Aspiring Leaders Workshop

On Wednesday, we were delighted to see a strong turnout as 28 of our dedicated teaching staff gathered at the Division Office to participate in an inspiring Aspiring Leaders Workshop. This was an exciting opportunity for our team to delve into the world of leadership and professional growth, drawing guidance and inspiration from the book The Aspiring Principal 50 by Baruti K. Kafele. I want to thank the Senior Leadership Team for their work in supporting my office in the preparation and presentation of the workshop. 

Lanigan School Update

CFO Sarah Reding, Superintendent of Operational Services Justin Arendt, Manager of Facility Services Kameron Kiland, and I met with the Lanigan school project team for our bi-weekly meeting and construction update on Thursday. The meeting was planned for an on-site discussion but was adjusted to an online meeting due to scheduling challenges. The project continues to be on schedule with a “Request for Proposal” recently sent out to address the abatement of the current buildings and the impending demolition. This past week, potential contractors were on-site to inspect the existing elementary and high school buildings as they prepared to put forward their bids to tackle this work in the late spring and summer of 2025. 

American Association of School Administrators (AASA)

I serve as the Western Representative for Canada as part of my executive duties with the Canadian Association of School System Administrators (CASSA). Canada is a zone within the American Association of School Administrators (AASA). Last Friday morning, I convened with fellow representatives from across the USA in engaging discussions related to contracts and other collaborative initiatives. I have appreciated being part of these opportunities as the learning is tremendous. As much as we know Canada and even Saskatchewan are unique concerning our educational issues, there are far more similarities and commonalities between the two countries than most realize. I look forward to continuing these monthly meetings and the learning that ensues. 

Finally, it is with the heaviest of hearts that I share the passing of one of our students from Foam Lake Composite School. Nathan Ruetz, son of FLCS teacher Bill Ruetz, passed away this weekend from injuries sustained in a single-vehicle accident. Nathan was in Grade 12 and an amazing young man with a brilliant future. The pain of his loss is unimaginable and I know that all of Horizon will keep Bill, his wife and family, the schools, and the greater community in our thoughts and prayers. Tragedy, as I have found, leaves a significant hole in our hearts that will never heal. We can only hope for strength as everyone impacted tries to deal with a new normal that no one could ever imagine. Life does not seem even close to fair when we lose a loved one, but when it is one of our children, the loss rips our hearts apart leaving us struggling to understand why someone so young would be taken from us. We have far more questions than answers and we may never know the why, but we can be there for others in their greatest time of need and hold them in our hearts and even in our hands as they deal with the most significant of grief.  

Take care of each other, Horizon. Please reach out if you need anything. #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, and welcome to Education Week! I love this year’s theme of ‘Shaping the Future Together,’ as it highlights the importance of collaboration and innovation in education. This week, we will explore various ways that students, teachers, parents, and communities can come together to create a brighter future for all learners. Former South African President Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” I know this quote is a well-known one, but it beautifully shows that education is more than just one person’s learning; it’s a force that can drive change, promote understanding, and build a better future for all. 

Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation Job Action

We spent time Monday finalizing plans for the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation’s (STF) withdrawal of noon period supervision. The job action was scheduled for Thursday, but was cancelled with the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee and STF returning to the bargaining table. We remain extremely hopeful that the two groups will make good progress in their next steps related to negotiations. 

I know that I have been quoted by the STF as having created issues for some of our members in Horizon. I want to be clear (“clear is kind”) that there is no case law regarding the expectations of principals during strike action. Section 175 of The Education Act, 1995 (the Act) speaks to the role of the principal in ensuring the safety of students. As Director, it is also clear in the Act that principals report to my office. The safety and well-being of our students is of paramount importance and the law is clear. I know that clarity is critical when there are crises, hence the reason for issuing a directive. I stand behind that language not because I want to devalue the important work of the STF, but to ensure that our kids are safe.

The Board and my office continue to respect the right for members of any union to strike in order to address the collective bargaining agreement. Those rights, as I am acutely aware, are contained within the Charter. However, what is also unclear, aside from the legal mandates I’ve already mentioned, is how the right to strike during a noon period may breach a local agreement that has been bargained in good faith between our local and the Board. This agreement addresses an obligation to provide noon period supervision in exchange for compensation. In Horizon, we have supported teachers taking leaves, even after strike announcements. This is the right thing to do for our teachers. But we remain perplexed as to why our local agreement would be compromised by a decision to issue sanctions during noon periods. It remains my hope that this can be argued at some point so it can be made clear for our staff, the Board, the Government, and the STF. 

Committee of the Whole

Horizon’s Board Trustees gathered at the Division Office on Tuesday for a Committee of the Whole meeting led by Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO Sarah Reding and myself. We had an excellent day with numerous analyses and in-depth discussions around our Division’s budget priorities. It was a great opportunity to discuss the importance of looking closely at the resources we have with a view to allocate them in the most effective manner possible.

Directors’ Leadership Team

Our Senior Leadership and Directors’ Leadership teams met for a virtual meeting on Wednesday morning where we covered updates to the curriculum, the impact assessment for inclusive education, student wellness initiatives, and contingency planning for job action, among other important topics. 

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 4799

CFO Sarah Reding, Superintendent of Human Resources Cory Popoff,  Assistant Superintendent of Finance Lori Washkowsky, Manager of Human Resources Monica Arendt, and I met on Friday with CUPE Local 4799 President Marie Moore, Vice President Carleen Theissing and the CUPE bargaining unit. We had a third great day of bargaining and I look forward to getting back to the table in early March. 

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]