Catholic School Matters

August 4, 2021

Welcome Back!

It's August and now time to start putting those plans for the new school year into practice. And, surprise, surprise, we're still in a pandemic! We've all learned to be flexible and adapt to the changing circumstances so that should come in handy as we move into this year. Next week we should have a statement ready for distribution about what schooling will look like this year. Stay tuned!

Our goal in the Department of Catholic Schools is quite simple: more students, better schools. All of our work will be measured in terms of whether it might result in higher enrollments and better schools. Our initiatives will hopefully spur innovation and energy which should result in renewed interest in our schools and improved outcomes. The good news is that we have more students registered for this fall than we ended with in the spring. Let's hope that's the start of a trend!

Our first strategic initiative? Communication. We're going to try to streamline our communication in two ways. First, Catholic School Matters will be our main vehicle of communication going out every Tuesday. Here you'll find information, deadlines, and resources. We'll archive them so you'll know where to find the latest Government Services update from Chris Riso or academic tips from Kari Buchinger. This is a public document intended primarily for our Catholic school educators, pastors, board members, and teachers. Please share this widely and encourage people to subscribe. To subscribe, hit the "follow" or "subscribe" button on this page. (In this video, I give a short demonstration)

Second, we're going to remake our website to make it a valuable resource. Very few things will be behind password-protected portals. All of our resources will be available. We're going to roll these out over the next month. Today, I'd like to draw your attention to the Principal Task list. Broken up by month, this provides a checklist for all Catholic school administrators to carry out their jobs. It also gives non-administrators a glimpse into how difficult this job is. This is a living document, meaning that we'll continue to update it as the year moves on (and the tasks evolve). Here's a short video showing how to access it.

Want to keep up with the conversations surrounding Catholic education? Set up your own Google Alert, subscribe to this newsletter by clicking "follow," subscribe to the Catholic Schools Daily, or subscribe to the Catholic School Matters podcast.

Dr. Tim Uhl

Save the Date!

  1. Principal meeting August 18th, 8:30-2:30 at UB Newman Center. RSVP on the portal
  2. New Principal and New Teachers meeting August 26th, 1-4 pm, UB Newman Center. RSVP on the portal.
  3. Diocesan Catechetical Day, October 8th, 8:30-11:30 at Our Lady of Victory Basilica. Mass at 8:30 am celebrated by Bishop Fisher, then keynote to wrap up by 11:30. RSVP on the portal. Schools are encouraged to conduct professional development in the afternoon by region.
  4. Due to scheduling issues brought on by the pandemic, the BPO concert date has been moved to Tuesday, January 18, 2022. Link to flyer.

Chris Riso, Government Services

Important Dates:

8/13/21 Last Day ECF Applications May be Submitted

8/20/21 NYS Elementary and Regents Test Counts Verified in L2RPT

8/31/21 Sign “Written Affirmation” forms for each District after Consultation

8/31/21 PDF/Copy of each “Written Affirmation” form sent to C. Riso

9/2/21 Teachers approved to be alone with students via Safe Environment

Reopening Guidance from NYSED for Religious and Independent Schools Still Not Ready

As you all can tell, we still have not received the 2021-2022 school reopening guidance from NYSED. I will share this with you as soon as it is made available.

Title IIa Count to Use for Consultation - Use Full K-12 BEDS Enrollment from 2020-2021

In the past I have received phone calls about the number of students for your school district of location (only) to use when calculating your Title IIa and Title IVa funding amounts during consultation. Please remind your district of location to use your entire 2020-2021 Kindergarten to Grade 12 BEDS enrollment when calculating Title IIa and Title IVa allocations for your school. This includes all K-12 students attending your school (not Pre-K), including those who reside in all other school districts. You do not receive Title IIa or Title IVa funding from any other school districts.

Public School Consultation–“2021-2022 Written Affirmation of LEA Consultation”,Title Funds

Once you have completed the “2021-2022 Written Affirmation of LEA Consultation with Private School Officials” for each school district, please email (or mail) a signed copy to me. Please do not sign forms until they are complete, with all sections filled in by the districts.

Reprint: Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) – Registration may not be needed

According to one of my peers, FCC staff said that schools will not be required to register in - that can be left to the vendor. It is believed (though no guarantees!) that this will help prevent participating schools from being considered recipients of federal financial assistance. Please call me if you have any questions about this.

Remember, ECF applications will be accepted to 8/13/21 if you are interested. Go to and see the 6/28/21 and 6/29/21 emails from me for more information.

Reprint: EANS (I) Program

Be sure to respond to any requests for information from the BOCES or NYSED. Call me if you continue to have questions or concerns with this program.

Summer Checklist for Government Programs

1. ECF Applications May be Submitted through 8/13/21

2. Complete Title I, Title IIa, Title III, and Title IVa consultation with the public school district prior to signing the “Written Affirmation of LEA Consultation” in August. You may need to consult with multiple districts for Title I services or funding.

a. Based on your Professional Development Plan for 2020-2021, decide where you will “keep” your Title IIa funds: with School District, BOCES, or NYSCIRS or a combination of those three.

3. Complete Mandated Services Form 1 (the Excel spreadsheet) and verify that the information is correct

4. Update NYS “School Safety Plan” (formerly Emergency/Crisis Response Plan)

5. Review Teacher Certification and Safe Environment Status

Here is the 8/4 update in PDF format.

Office Updates

  1. A new funding model has been proposed where pastors without schools will send a per-pupil subsidy to Catholic schools who enroll one of its parishioners. Here is the link to the recommendation and here is the recommended parish verification form. Please pay attention to the fact that this is voluntary and not every parish/pastor may participate at this level.
  2. Fr. Bryan sent out a Road to Renewal update earlier this month. Here is a link to the letter
  3. Fall sports are looking to be as normal as possible. Please make sure to send in your AD and PE teachers ASAP.
  4. The new job posting form can be found on the portal. Please send your postings to
  5. Here are the latest job openings:
  6. OLV in Lackawanna is looking for a part-time music teacher, a full-time PE teacher, a Spanish teacher, a 5th grade teacher, and a Middle School English teacher
  7. Ss. Peter & Paul in Hamburg is looking for part-time music and art teachers.

From Kari Buchinger

Teachers often hear that the first days of school set the tone for the entire year. If this sentiment rings true for teachers, then the work of school leaders during in-service is just as important. These first gatherings may bring with it the wide eyes of a brand new teacher, excitement from those who can’t wait to see their students again, and some summer yawns from those that may be wishing for a few extra days of vacation time. Despite the mixed emotions that may be in the room, school leaders are called to ignite the fire that lies within the hearts of every Catholic School teacher and help them remember that Catholic Schools are where students come alive. I challenge you to ask yourself how your in-service plans will set the tone for the school year? If you aren’t sure where to start, here are a few tips:

  1. Bring the joy! If you are fully present, prepared, and excited, your faculty and staff will match your energy. After all, they say positivity is contagious.
  2. Make sure everyone feels welcome and allow your new and returning staff to get to know one another.
  3. Prioritize what is discussed. If something can be sent via email, send it via email! Sessions should focus on strengthening the team’s faith, instructional lens, and service to the school community.
  4. Share school-wide goals. Begin with the end in mind. Teachers are asked to do this all the time. If teachers don’t know what they want students to do by the end of the lesson, how are they supposed to get them there? If faculty and staff are unaware of the school’s goals, how can they assist in creating a path to help the school achieve them?
  5. Plan and execute impactful professional development. The pandemic has put a spotlight on the need for teachers and leaders to remain lifelong learners. There is always room to learn how to serve students in a better way. In what areas of instruction do your teachers need more support? How can this come to life during in-service to help teachers start the year with the tools to serve all students?
  6. Pray, pray, pray! Pray with joy in your hearts as you share the excitement of a new school year. Pray in gratitude for the families that continue to choose your school to educate their children. Pray for wisdom and strength to serve them to the best of your ability.

Set the tone, bring the joy, and prepare for the endless blessings that are in store for this school year.


As we work to transform our website to be more user-friendly with resources, we'll be rolling out resources. The first is our "Principal Task List." This is organized as a living Google Doc by month. I say "living" because we'll continue to add hyperlinks, other resources, and work to perfect this as we move along. When the calendar turns, take a look at what needs to be done!

Catholic School Matters

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

Articles for Your Reflection

What I'm Reading

    1. The Power of Giving Away Power: How the Best Leaders Learn to Let Go (2021) by Matthew Barzun
    2. The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain (2021) by Annie Murphy Paul
    3. Lassoing the Sun: A Year in America's National Parks (2016) by Mark Woods

            Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

            Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

            May 24, 2021 "What Have you Learned?"

            For previous newsletters, click this link

            Orchestrating Conflict

            A couple of years ago I set out to write a book which would explore the challenges of Catholic school leadership. My premise that there are no easy answers and that we have to learn from our (and other's) mistakes in order to form a mindset appropriate for orchestrating conflict proved prescient as we all faced completely new and unexpected challenges in 2020. The book,Orchestrating Conflict: Case Studies in Catholic Leadership is now available on Amazon or on the Barnes & Noble site in print or e-book formats. The book explores issues in Catholic school leadership and the tensions between building community and following Church policies and introduces deliberate practice as a method for leadership formation.