Catholic School Matters

October 19, 2021

Enrollment Numbers

It's often said that the most important metric in Catholic schools is enrollment. I hate to think that's all that matters, but we shouldn't ignore our enrollment trends:

· Overall, our pK-12 enrollment has seen a drop of only 23 students across our 52 schools (from 12,089 to 12,066 students). So let’s stop and recognize that over 12 thousand students are receiving a Catholic school education in the Diocese of Buffalo.

· Pre-K saw the largest increase--161 students (12% increase)

· K-8 enrollment was down 101 students (6977 down to 6876), which means that preK-8 enrollment was actually up 60 students.

· High school enrollment was down 83 students (from 3923 to 3840).

· If one were to simply look at these schools and trace their enrollment back 10 years, there is a 15 percent enrollment slide. Yes, some schools have closed. And no, not every one of those students re-enrolled at another Catholic school. There is no perfect way to look at enrollment but looking at this cohort is instructive.

· The 27 schools with highest enrollment gains from last year showed an average growth of 9%.

· The highest growth among elementary schools in terms of numbers was St. Benedict’s with 37 students. St. Amelia is the largest pre-K-8 at a single site and Notre Dame Academy in South Buffalo is the largest prek-8 elementary school

· The highest growth among high schools was St. Mary’s in Lancaster with 49 more students. St. Mary’s HS is the largest coed high school; the largest all-girls high school is Sacred Heart Academy; the largest all-boys high school is St. Joe’s Collegiate.

As we dug into enrollment, what became apparent was that there is not one single trend. 27 schools showed growth, 3 were exactly the same, and 22 had fewer students this year. If a school dedicates itself to best practices in enrollment management and recruiting, it can grow enrollment. At this point in the year, the focus should be on retention—reaching out to families to answer their concerns, making sure all students are engaged and involved, and communicating with all families to include them in your mission.

As we move forward, we’ll begin to introduce more best practices to grow our enrollments and serve more students.

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Dr. Tim Uhl

Office Updates

  1. Basketball update: Under the current COVID conditions, we are implementing the following guidance for our basketball league: one spectator per participant will be allowed, masks are required for spectators, social distancing is encouraged, and ventilation should be emphasized. Here is the link to First Aid/CPR training in November.
  2. Safe Environment for Children programs must be completed by November 1st.

  3. Link here for the Catholic Schools Day at the BPO (Jan 18, 2022). Here's the link to the registration form.

Kari Buchinger on Academics

During my first year of teaching, I had a surprise observation from my principal right after recess. At that time, my students were reading at their desks. I grew flustered and quickly had them put their books away to start a math lesson. Independent reading wasn't flashy enough or important enough for my principal to see. That memory comes flooding back every time I learn something new about the power of independent reading, and I am reminded how incorrect my thinking was.

The more we read, the better readers we become. That doesn't have to happen in isolation when diving into an ELA text. It can also occur during protected independent reading time. You may wonder, can reading independently really impact academic performance? The answer is a resounding yes! Independent reading can improve students' oral reading accuracy, increase reading rate, improve reading expression, and increase reading comprehension. The greatest impact occurs when teachers model and teach students to select appropriate texts, conference with students, monitor and provide feedback to students, and make students accountable for their reading (Reutzel, Fawson, Smith, 2008).

Impactful independent reading is so much more than silent reading or DEAR (Drop everything and read) time. But, we all have to start somewhere. So, if you are ready to see the power of independent reading in your own classroom, begin with protecting time on your daily schedule. From there, you can work to build reading stamina. Don't be afraid to start small and build up each day. Perhaps, Monday, a class reads for five minutes while avoiding distractions. Tuesday, shoot for six minutes, Wednesday, seven minutes, etc. Consider using a stamina tracker like the ones featured below,! Next week, we will discuss book choice and ways to build this procedure in your classroom to help students find a "just right book" for them during independent reading time.

Previous "Academic Corner" posts from Kari

Chris Riso on Government Services

Thank you for completing your NCEA Reports and making any requested corrections; now we move on to your NYS BEDS report. Once you complete the Excel template we provided to help you prepare for the NYS BEDS report based on your student and staff attendance from 10/6/2021, you should enter the information online by 11/19/2021 using the NYSED Business Portal ( When you are ready to file your BEDS report with NYSED, go to “IRS Data Exchange” under “My Applications” (do not use BEDS/IMF moving forward – that only holds your archival data now). It takes about 10 to 15 seconds to load but you should see “BEDS - Nonpublic Data Form” for “Collection Year” 2021-2022 as one of your choices on the new site. Once you click on it (and wait – it takes a while) you should be able to enter your data using this form. NYSED will warn you if you enter some things incorrectly; if that happens, make the necessary corrections and then update your Excel spreadsheet before emailing it to us.

On October 13th most of you received the email from Althea Johnson from NYSED about the 2020-2021 Mandated Services Reimbursement Process. The claim process should be very similar to the process followed last year. Many of you already requested a personalized Mandated Services Excel spreadsheet from me – this spreadsheet is a convenient place to enter all of your school-specific information (salaries, benefits, days in the year, hours in the day) and calculates all of the totals you need to enter online. If you have not yet requested this spreadsheet from me and would like yours, please send me an email and I will send it right back to you.

Important Dates:

10/20/21 Return NCEA Updates/Corrections Due to our Office

10/29/21 Register for Free RISE Conference – Online Conference

11/1/21 Title I Letters Sent to Each Public School District w/Poverty Students

11/2/21 VOTE!

11/19/21 BEDS Report Due to NYSED via Business Portal IRS-Data Exchange

12/1/21 Fire Safety Inspection Must be Completed; Report Due 12/15/2021

Previous posts from Mr. Riso

Save the Date!

  1. Weekly principal Zooms at 9:30 am on Wednesdays. This week we'll have an open Q & A.
  2. Diocesan Advisory Council meeting October 21st.
  3. School Administrators meeting (in person) October 28th at OLV, 8:30-2:30. Please fill out this survey in advance. Here is the link to a map of OLV and here are the directions to enter the building.
  4. School Visit Schedule
  5. Diocese of Buffalo Catholic days at the BPO Jan 18th


  1. "Principal Task List." This is organized as a living Google Doc by month.
  2. Here's a link to the forms on our website.
  3. New Policy Manual
  4. New Operations Manual
  5. Administrator Goal Sheet and the new Administrator evaluation form

Articles for Your Reflection

Catholic School Matters

A weekly newsletter of resources to spur enrollment and excellence in our Catholic schools.

What I'm Reading

    1. The Edge: How Ten CEOs Learned to Lead - and the Lessons for Us All (2021) by Michael Useem
    2. Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen (2020) by Dan Heath

    3. TrustED: The Bridge to School Improvement (2021) by Toby A. Travis

    4. Leading Change: An Action Plan from the World's Foremost Expert on Business Leadership (1996) by John P. Kotter

    5. Heroic Leadership: Best Practices from a 450-Year-Old Company that Changed the World (2003) by Chris Lowney

            Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

            Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

            October 12, 2021 "Core Beliefs"

            October 5, 2021 "A Culture of Collaboration"

            September 28, 2021 "Coming Together"

            September 21, 2021 "How We Doing?"

            September 14, 2021 "Retention, Retention"

            September 7, 2021 "Operations Manual"

            August 31, 2021 "Swimming Upstream"

            August 24, 2021 "Learning in Community"

            August 11, 2021 "Another COVID Opening"

            August 4, 2021 "Welcome Back"

            For previous newsletters, click this link