Catholic School Matters

May 23, 2023

Bylaws & Principles

Even though our Catholic schools are site-managed and have high levels of autonomy, our vision is to have a collaborative network of schools working together to make all our schools vibrantly Catholic. All of our schools are facing enrollment and financial challenges and, as the Road to Renewal has pointed out, fewer priests to provide administrative oversight and leadership. We’ve also seen lay leadership identified as one of the goals of the Diocese’s new strategic plan.

In this current context, we’ve developed new operating principles for our parish schools to strengthen the role of lay people to build stronger schools. We’ve asked all of our parish school boards and leaders to review them and offer feedback here by the end of this week. As you’ll see, the operating principles are still a work in progress as questions have arisen. We hope to incorporate this feedback into the next version of them which will shape the board training on September 22nd.

We’ve also sent out new bylaws for our regional schools. We’ve also developed a new MOU to be signed every summer by the local Board of Trustees and the Diocese of Buffalo. These were sent out to regional school principals, Canonical Administrators, and Board Chairs. Please review these and respond here by June 9th. It’s important to note that these documents are also works in progress and thus your feedback is important.

It’s interesting that I’ve received the same feedback from a couple of different schools. “We don’t like them so we’re not going to use them,” they’ve said. I think there’s an assumption that their feedback won’t be accounted for or the documents are already final. Other schools have given the “ignore” feedback by not responding at all. If we want to imagine a shared future, we need to start collaborating now. Your school board might be high functioning and/or you might be happy with the current composition so you might wonder about why you should change. I redirect you to the challenges outlined at the start of this blog–we are seeing fewer priests available for school leadership and financial and enrollment challenges are affecting all of our schools.

Our hope is that the new Operating Principles and Regional Bylaws will provide a framework for school improvement by increasing leadership capacity by offering new opportunities for lay leadership and establishing a more collaborative culture in our schools.

Previous blogs can be found here. Want to keep up with the conversations surrounding Catholic education? Set up your own Google Alert, subscribe to this newsletter by clicking "follow," or subscribe to the Catholic School Matters podcast.

Dr. Tim Uhl

Golden Apple Winners

St. Sebastian Awardees

The Department of Catholic Schools also re-instituted the St. Sebastian awards for our athletic volunteers. A winner was chosen from each region:

  • Brian Shipley has been coaching at De Sales in Lockport for over ten years.
  • Regina Rhodes from St. John the Baptist in Alden has served as the athletic director for ten years
  • Rick Diamond of Our Lady of Victory has volunteered as a coach and athletic director for over 25 years

Kari Buchinger on Academics


Thank you Jenn Brown and our friends at Renaissance for joining us last week to discuss the many ways our schools could take advantage of the Freckle program. This is an incredible opportunity to adopt a student support program that aligns directly to our STAR benchmark assessments. Freckle focuses on four subject areas ELA, Math, Science and Social Studies. It includes student practice materials and fantastic teacher resources for key grade level standards. If you are interested in Freckle please let me know and I am happy to provide more information and connect you with Jenn to get started.

Character Education Celebration

Last call to sign up your students to attend the Character Education Celebration! Please complete this survey by the end of the day today. We look forward to seeing everyone on May 30 at St. Stephen’s Church in Grand Island.

ESchool Advancement Date

On July 12 ESchool will advance to the 23-24 school year. To prepare for grade advancement all students must have a Scheduling School and Scheduling Grade for next year. Students that are advancing to the next grade should move forward automatically. But, if a student is going to be retained, or a student was registered after February they will need to have their scheduling school/scheduling grade added or adjusted.

To get a complete list of your students and their scheduling schools and grades run the following report:

System>Scheduling>Mass Update Scheduling, click on the blue button View Scheduler Option by Grade

For students who need their Scheduling School and/or Scheduling Grade changed:

  1. Go to Student>Student Profile>Student List & search student name

  2. Click on to student’s name for their Portfolio

  3. Click on the “Edit Profile” tab. This is where you find the Scheduling School and Scheduling Grade

  4. Edit this and click Save.

If you have any questions please contact Laurie Wojtaszczyk at

Previous "Academic Corner" posts from Kari

Office Updates

Here's the link to the Office Blog

Chris Riso on Government Services

NYSED MST/STEM Grant Submission Deadline 8/1/2023: The 2022-2023 school year Program Guidance and Reimbursement Form Instructions and Reimbursement Form for the New York State Grants for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Teachers in Religious and Independent Schools (MST) – year 6 has been released and can be found at In Year 4, our WNY Catholic Schools received just over $1.9 million in reimbursement, with the 13 participating elementary schools averaging almost $49,000 in reimbursement while the seven participating high schools averaged almost $182,000 in reimbursement. With another increase in funding to the MST Grant program in last year’s NYS Budget, I highly recommend that you apply for this grant if you have any qualified teachers. The application may be submitted on the SED Business Portal (SED Monitoring) when it is made available in early June or via email, mail, or fax. Directions on how to access the online application are in Appendix B of the MST Guidance document; there is also a Frequently Asked Question document available. Although they are encouraging schools to submit via the Business Portal, the paper applications will also be accepted (please only send the applications once via the portal or by email, mail, or fax). All applications must be RECEIVED by NYSED by Tuesday, August 1, 2023 (A postmark date of August 1, 2023 will not substitute for this).

Here are some of the more important items I gleaned from the guidance documents over the years:

1. Note: “Incomplete or incorrect applications will be deemed ineligible and will not be reviewed” (from FAQ 33); you may want to double and triple check your submission using the information in Appendix A before submitting your claim.

2. You must submit a separate application for each Grade 3-12 teacher but if you are mailing in your applications they want you to mail all teachers from your school together in one packet, if possible. If possible, use the online submission form available through the NYSED Business Portal rather than submitting your claim via the mail (see Appendix B).

a. You will not be notified by NYSED that your submission has been received; you can email to request confirmation.

3. Even though the deadline is 8/1/2023, they do not anticipate paying any claims until at least the fall or beyond; payments for 2022 submissions still have not been sent out almost 10 months later.

4. When proving that a teacher is certified, you may submit a screen shot from the Office of Teaching Initiative TEACH website or the NYSED Teacher Certification Lookup website – this might help obscure any personally identifying information that might show on a printed certificate.

a. Similarly for those without a certificate who are following the Master’s/PhD route, you can submit a memo from their college instead of their transcript.

5. When submitting the school’s master schedule, include

a. all courses taught by all teachers;

b. names or initials of every teacher teaching each course;

i. If teachers have the same initials, please list names in full.

c. individual classes specifying the grade level and subject/course name; and

d. the final 2022-2023 full year schedule, including all courses/duties across all terms/quarters over the entire school year

6. They will need to see your course descriptions for the MST courses you claim, with evidence that curricula are guided by the New York State learning standards.

7. Teachers claimed may not teach religion (as a separate class) at any time during the school day.

8. Signed 2022-2023 employment agreements, signed by both the employer and the teacher, must be submitted. This agreement must include:

a. Indication that the agreement is for the 2022-2023 school year

b. The 2022-2023 yearly salary

c. Part-time or full-time status

d. Teacher’s start and end date for the 2022-2023 school year

e. Teacher and school leader initials next to any changes made to this agreement

f. An addendum signed and dated by both the teacher and the school leader for any of the above information not included in the original employment agreement

g. If you do not have these on file, be sure to get an agreement signed by all parties before the end of the school year (before teachers leave).

9. The certification section requires original signatures of the nonpublic school chief administrator and the nonpublic school teacher. (For 2022-2023, schools can submit electronic or copied (scanned) signatures in the certification section, if necessary)

a. If submitting your claim online, you can download the “MST Teacher Certification Form” found on the left side of the online form under “Documents”. This is what is needed if you do not use submit the paper application form by mail, which includes the teacher’s signature (the Chief Administrator signature is not needed because the applications are being submitted by the Principal via the NYSED Business Portal).

b. Make sure you get these signatures from the teachers before they leave at the end of the school year.

10. Once you finish submitting one form, you should be able to open a new application to submit another one if you have more than one qualified teacher.

11. Read the FAQs and the MST Guidance Document.

Previous posts from Mr. Riso

Athletics Info

Save the Date!

  1. Weekly principal Zooms at 9:00 am on Wednesdays.
  2. School safety & security presentation, May 23rd. The program can be found here. Details: 7-9 pm at St. Andrew Country Day School, registration link here.
  3. Celebration (Awards Ceremony) May 30, St. Stephen's
  4. June Principal Meeting, June 27th, St. Andrew's
  5. New Teacher Inservice (including VIRTUS), August 29th
  6. School Board workshop September 22nd
  7. Fall Professional Development day, October 6, 2023 @ St. Mary's HS.


  1. This spring's proposed new Operating Principles for parish schools.
  2. School Visit Form, spring 2023.
  3. The Fall 2022 Diocesan Health Scorecard; The spring 2022 Diocesan Health Scorecard.
  4. School Pastor's Administrative Guide
  5. "Principal Task List." This is organized as a living Google Doc by month.
  6. New Policy Manual for all Catholic schools in the Diocese of Buffalo.
  7. New Operations Manual for Diocesan Catholic schools.
  8. Administrator Goal Sheet and the new Administrator evaluation form

Articles for Your Reflection

Catholic School Matters Podcast

This season's Catholic School Matters podcast season wrapped up with a conversation with Dr. Gerald Cattaro of Fordham. Jerry is a legend in Catholic education circles! is Previous episodes:

  • Elizabeth Goettl joins the podcast to discuss her retirement from Cristo Rey schools and lessons learned
  • Dr. Tony Galla, Buffalo native and most recently a Regional Superintendent in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, joins the podcast to discuss his decision to return to school leadership at his alma mater, Bishop Alemany High School
  • This week's episode is a conversation with Marc Martinez of Houston, the founding principal of St. Peter's Catholic Career & Technical High School in Houston.
  • conversation with Dr. Antonio Felix of Los Angeles. Antonio directs the PLACE Corps, an LMU-sponsored teaching program for teacher volunteers.
  • a conversation with Greg Dhuyvetter, the Executive Director of WCEA (Western Catholic Education Association).

Here is a link to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Catholic School Matters

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

Location: Buffalo, NY, USA
Phone: 716-847-5520
Twitter: @WNYCatholicEd

My Last 5 Books

  1. Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It (2022) by Richard Reeves
  2. The Good Life: Lessons from the World's Longest Scientific Study of Happiness (2023) by Robert Waldinger & Marc Schulz

  3. Hope Against Darkness: The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in an Age of Anxiety (2001) by Richard Rohr

  4. A Man of Iron: The Turbulent Life & Improbable Presidency of Grover Cleveland (2022) by Troy Senik

  5. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant (2023) by W. Chan Kim

          Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

          Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

          May 16, 2023 "Roswell Park"

          May 9, 2023 "Security Workshop"

          May 2, 2023 "Strategic Planning"

          April 25, 2023 "Clarity"

          April 18, 2023 "School Security"

          March 28, 2023 "News & Notes"

          For previous newsletters, click this link

          A few 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. Most recently, I have completed a new book proposal so book #2 is underway!