Horizon School Division director of education happy with Sask. budget

Nicole Goldsworthy
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Horizon School Division’s director of education said he is pleased with the increase of funding to education in the provincial budget.

“I’ve been a director for 10 years, and this is the second-best budget since I’ve been here,” Kevin Garinger said. The first was in his first year in the position.

“I want to say it certainly provides for sustainable funding for a period of time – four years – that is in agreements with the school boards.”

The provincial government said that they will be providing $356.6 million in classroom supports.

Garinger said that this funding will align more to what the needs look like in their classrooms. He said Horizon School Division has the third or fourth lowest pupil to teacher ratios in the province.

The director of education said he recognizes there are complexity issues within our classrooms.

“Classrooms have been complex for many years. We have been meeting those needs as best we can. With this budget, we can talk with our board and see how we can expand and support things in a better way. “

Garinger said the funding was appreciated and the commitment to sustaining that funding over a four-year period will support learning in our schools.

“It will certainly have a positive impact,” he said.

“We have to get kids to school and our transportation dollars have always been impacted and they have never been at a level that met our need. Now with additional dollars, we won’t have to take from instruction in the same way.

“We hope there can be an agreement reached, as this budget has shone a light on the commitment the provincial governments has made. We are going to be able to support our classrooms in an effective manner.”

The director of education said in the past, there weren’t always enough dollars to pay for expenses such as “grid creep,” when teachers salaries wages move up on wage scales.

“I think from my perspective at least, that there are support staff contract, grid increments for teachers, and those things not being funded, that looks a bit different this year, I think the government has looked at these other variables and therefore will help mitigate them. This funding will directly help to support children and it will be sustainable and predictable,” he said.

“All and all, a very positive position standpoint that will support the most prized resources, our children.”

Plans for the dollars will go to a continuum of supports, Garinger said. Additional support through teacher coaching, building efficacy and capacity of teachers, other interventions such as other support staff.

“[Educational assistants] are an important part of our team. Additional teaching staff, support classrooms, physiology support, speech language and pathology support and occupational therapists.”

Garinger also said that losing out on extracurricular activities has also been a disruption for students and staff.

“Many teachers enjoy connecting with students, outside of the school atmosphere. We need to keep schools open. And keep our kids in schools. We have managed.”

“The more hands make lighter work, drama, music and all types of sports, we know those are important. Parents are engaged and we had kids in wrestling provincials this year and we are proud of that.”

Garinger said, “We care and need to ensure that this amazing and important profession that exists in our world that we are able to sustain the people in it.”