BARRHEAD/WESTLOCK — The Pembina Hills School Division is again in need of a new superintendent, as Michael Borgfjord has submitted his resignation effective May 31, 2024.
Borgfjord, who began working for Pembina Hills in September 2021, has accepted the position of superintendent at the Black Gold School Division, which is based south of Edmonton and operates schools in Leduc, Devon, Calmar, New Sarepta and other surrounding communities.
Borgfjord submitted his resignation to the Pembina Hills trustees during their Nov. 22 meeting in Barrhead. The news was then officially announced via Pembina Hills and Black Gold websites on Nov. 23.
In an e-mail, Borgfjord said leaving the division was a difficult decision to make as Pembina Hills is comprised of many amazing people, but this was an unexpected opportunity that fit with his family’s needs.
"I can’t be prouder of the work that our staff does in this division. Also, I am so grateful to the board of trustees, who are tremendous advocates for public education and the local community. The division is lucky to have such a strong board who put the needs of staff and students first,” he said.
“I will greatly miss working here and I have so many wonderful experiences that I will take with me. My leadership team will continue to do great work as the division is blessed with so many wonderful people who work tirelessly to support children.”
In an interview, board chair Judy Lefebvre said they will regret losing Borgfjord, adding that he was an excellent superintendent who built up many “great, solid relationships” within the division.
She said that the board and the outgoing superintendent always worked together to achieve the best for students in Pembina Hills, and he always respected the thoughts and views of the trustees.
“There’s no doubt about It … it’s going to be tough to find a replacement for him,” she said.
“We’re not wishing Mike luck, because he does not need luck with his knowledge, his experience, his skill set and his personality.”
On the Black Gold division’s website, it states that they had conducted a division-wide search for a new superintendent, and Borgfjord was selected from a “strong group of candidates because his experience ties solidly into our strategic goals.”
Although Borgfjord officially begins his new position on June 1, 2024, Pembina Hills could theoretically hire a new superintendent and have them begin work prior to that date.
“If we can get a process going wherein we can hire a new superintendent before that time, and who could come on board before that time, then that date could be flexible,” said Lefebvre.
She said the board would be making some preliminary decisions during a virtual meeting on Nov. 23, but the search for a new superintendent could involve hiring an outside consultant, which incidentally is how Black Gold went about their search.
Lefebvre noted that the task is too big for the board to take on by itself, given all the legal implications and the amount of time that must be spent on interviews and reference checking.
“It takes somebody who is going to be committed to it for a solid amount of time in order to accomplish all those pieces of the process,” she said.
Prior to coming to work at Pembina Hills, Borgfjord had been a junior and senior high teacher in rural Manitoba before taking on the role of superintendent at the Seine River School Division in 2008.
He had served on many provincial committees, such as the Manitoba Special Needs Funding Task Force and the Manitoba Association of School Superintendents.
Prior to Borgfjord, the position of superintendent had been held by David Garbutt.
Garbutt had previously worked as the principal of Barrhead Composite High School and R.F. Staples School before moving into the administrative side of the division.
He assumed the role of acting superintendent following the departure of Colleen Symyrozum-Watt in February 2017, and was then appointed as the permanent superintendent later that year. Garbutt retired at the end of the 2020-2021 school year.