Catholic School Matters

February 14, 2023

Activities & Retention

Last Saturday I was surrounded by over 400 teenagers as loud music played. It was glorious! Students were decked out in their favorite outfits and the energy was contagious. I was so happy to see so many students have fun and relieved to see our efforts to establish new Diocesan activities (and traditions) paid off.

This event comes on the heels of our Diocesan spelling bee and Diocesan chess championship and set the stage for the Diocesan science fair and the X-STREAM competition. There’s even talk of a Diocesan speech tournament next year. What’s going on?

Recall that after our COVID-interrupted years, so many of our students were disconnected from each other.They needed stronger communities. At the same time, we’ve seen our enrollments tail off in the middle school years and the hypothesis was there wasn’t enough activities to keep those students connected. Enter our strategic priority to develop more activities and sports. We’ve seen kickball, bowling, math, spelling, chess, dancing so far this year.

Don’t discount the impact these activities could have on retention–short- and long-term. As we all embark on registration for next year, it’s easy to focus on the new families and new interest. We need to be equally focused on retaining our current students and families. One part of that is ensuring that we are serving and challenging them.

Even our celebration of character, where we acknowledge our determined students, for example, is a chance to connect our students. We've begun working on the 8th grade retreat (April 21st) and the end of the year celebration (May 30).

For more reading on retention, here is a link to Sr. Carol Cimino’s 2018 blog and recommendations about retention. Here is a link to a post from the Healey Education Foundation which suggests tactics for retention. Here is a series of recommendations from FinalSite.

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," subscribe to the Catholic Schools Daily, or subscribe to the Catholic School Matters podcast.

Dr. Tim Uhl

Kari Buchinger on Academics

Nominate your January Character Award Winner Here!

Previous "Academic Corner" posts from Kari

Office Updates

  1. Nominate your inclusive teacher of the year and find out about professional development from FICE. Both documents here

  2. Please email your summer school information to Laurie W.

  3. The March Principals Meeting Registration link (for the March 9th meeting)

  4. Here is the link for the Office Blog with the latest forms and information. This can be found on the website under "Blogs.

Chris Riso on Government Services

NYS Catholic Conference Catholic Education Testimony: Jim Cultrara presented testimony before the NYS Legislature on behalf of all Catholic Schools on 2/8/23. This testimony explains our position on the funding for many of the programs which our students benefit from, from AIS, Mandated Services, and Instructional Materials funding to NonPublic SafetyEquipment (NPSE), MST Salary Reimbursement, EANS funding. The testimony also asks for a fix the the June 1 Special Education request deadline, expansion of the 15 mile transportation range, and inclusion of our schools in new programs meant to support student mental health needs. If you are interested, please see the full testimony here: NYSCCSS Elementary Secondary Education Testimony 2-8-2023.pdf

Mandated Services Update: As you begin to work on your online claims, please see my important message about Mandate 1 emailed to all principals and select Business Managers on 2/2/23. If you have not already done so, please consider opening a new 2021-2022 Mandated Services claim via the NYSED Business Portal (; see my note in the 2/7/23 Catholic School Matters for information on how to do this. Even though you may not be ready to enter any information for your claim, having the claim open will allow me to look it over to make sure everything from NYSED loaded properly (BEDS enrollment; test counts) and we have plenty of time to correct any problems.

Mandated Services Data Entry Sessions 3/20 & 3/21: If you are not using a paid preparer I highly recommend that you use the Mandated Services forms provided by me to prepare for online submission. I have arranged for two half-day sessions to assist you as you key in your Mandated Services claims (after your Excel spreadsheet and “Form 2” are completed):

Mon., Mar. 20 – Immaculate Conception, 510 Oakwood Ave, East Aurora, 14052, 1 - 4pm

Tues., Mar. 21 – St. Amelia School, 2999 Eggert Rd, Tonawanda 14150, 1:00 - 4:00pm

If you wish to attend one of these sessions please register by sending an email to me at If you do not need the in-person assistance you can always submit the claim on your own. If you want me to look it over prior to submission, make sure you save it online by 3/23/22 for me to view before you click “submit”.

NonPublic Safety Equipment Forms Released - 3/31/23 Submission Deadline: NYSED posted all the information on the Year 9 NonPublic Safety Equipment Grant (NPSE), including the allocation amounts, on the NYSED website here: Nonpublic Schools Grant Opportunities web page. Their new numbers are not matching my calculations but they are close enough for you to move ahead with any projects you might be planning before the application for reimbursement is due on 3/31/23. Once I hear back from NYSED about the funding discrepancies, I will send you another email with the new amounts. If you need the numbers now and are having trouble finding your school on their form, email me.

Previous posts from Mr. Riso

Athletics Info

Save the Date!

  1. Weekly principal Zooms at 9:00 am on Wednesdays
  2. Meeting with Catholic high school principals/presidents March 8th.
  3. Principal Meeting, March 9th, St. Andrew CDS
  4. Catholic High School information nights March 21st Nativity of Our Lord, March 28th St. Andrew CDS, 6-7:30 pm each night. Open to all students/parents in grades 6-8.
  5. 8th grade retreat April 21st.
  6. Diocesan Awards Ceremony May 30, St. Stephen's
  7. Fall Professional Development day, October 6, 2023 @ St. Mary's HS.


  1. School Visit Form, spring 2023.
  2. Devotional Calendar 2022-23.
  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 is underway with Dr. Daryl Hagan, the Interim Director of the Institute for the Transformation of Catholic Education at Catholic University and the Director of the Lumen Accreditation, which is designed to serve only Catholic schools. Associate Director Dr. Andrew Kremer also joins us for the discussion of this new accreditation model. Previous episodes:

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

Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

Feb 7th "Anchor Churches"

Jan 31, 2023 "Catholic Schools Week"

Jan 24, 2023 "Accreditation"

Jan 17, 2023 "AI Blog!"

Jan 10, 2023 "January Updates"

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.