Catholic School Matters

February 7, 2023

Anchor Churches & STREAM

In the past month, many of our STREAM schools have produced impressive projects that demonstrate the academic benefits of STREAM. Recall that STREAM came to our schools as a way to infuse rigorous curriculum as well as cross-curricular engagement. It was hoped that the STREAM brand would make our schools distinctive and appealing.

This year, our schools were challenged to produce “Anchor Church” projects. Each school adopted one old church, created school-wide projects to investigate the architecture, history, and milieu of the church. The schools were then challenged to present their projects in one 5-minute video. After review by Bishop Fisher and the entire Department of Catholic Schools staff, the winners were chosen.

In first place was Christ the King School who researched the closed St. Agnes Church in the Lovejoy neighborhood. Here is a link to their video.

In second place, St. Christopher School researched the recently-closed Holy Angels Church which is now part of D’Youville University. Here’s a link to their video.

In third place, St. Stephen’s School researched the original church building on their property. Here’s a link to their video.

Part of loving where you live is understanding the history of the neighborhoods and churches. This project also gave students an understanding of the art and architecture of anchor churches.

When viewing these videos, it’s easy to see how beneficial these cross-curricular STREAM projects are for students. Special thanks to Siobhan Pawelczyk for developing these projects as well as spearheading the new STREAM activities such as the math competition, spelling bee, science fair, robotics, e-Sports, and X-STREAM games.

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

Testing Tip!

Breaking down word problems can be a real headache for students when they take standardized tests. These word problems are often filled with a lot of text, some that is connected to the question being asked and some that doesn’t mean a thing. Taking advantage of a strategy like CUBES can help focus on the most important information.

C- Circle the numbers

U- Underline the question

B- Box the key words (math action words)

E- Evaluate and draw (What steps should I take?)

S- Solve and Check!

Click here to print a copy of a CUBES poster for your classroom!

Nominate your January Character Award Winner Here!

Previous "Academic Corner" posts from Kari

Office Updates

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

  2. 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

Mandated Services Online Portal Now Open: The online system is finally open for 2021-2022 Mandated Services claims! To open a new 2021-2022 claim, go to the Mandated Services application on the NYSED Business Portal ( and, next to “Create:”, click on the button marked “2022-New”. When you hover over “2022” once the screen reloads, the new claim should be on the screen and marked as “OPEN”. Before you begin entering your claim online, I highly recommend you use the personalized Excel spreadsheet I have created for your school; once you clean up this information you can use the resulting information on the second tab (“21-22 MSA Claim”) to fill out your “Form 2” Word document. Once “Form 2” is complete, you have everything you need to enter your claim online.

Before you begin working on your online claim, please also make sure you review my 2/2/23 email that was sent to all principals - this email contains important advice for Mandate 1 and all Mandates with exam or graduation counts. Also, make sure you have official payroll and benefits reports to support the salaries and benefits you will claim for each staff member.

To begin working on your new “Open” claim just click “Edit”. Although the first thing to show on your screen is the CAP certification and the instructions direct you to work on this first, you should ignore this section for now because you have no salary and benefits information entered in Mandate 1 yet; you can work on this section later before you submit your claim (after my review). In order to work on the other parts of your claim, click on the “Summary of Expenditures” button on the bottom of the right side of this page. This will bring up a list of the Mandates that you may enter information for. Start by clicking on “Enrollment” – you must check one of the choices given; if the pre-populated BEDS counts are correct and are also the highest enrollment you had for the 2021-2022 year, check “BEDS on file” and then “Save Form” at the top of the page. The page will refresh and you can move on to another Mandate; I recommend that you work on Mandate 1 before moving on to any other sections. At this point you should be able to continue completing the form as you did in previous years. One important note: You must click on the “Save Form” button after completing each mandate or you could lose that information. You may want to look at the Mandated Services Online System User Guide for step by step instructions - I worked with NYSED to make this document as user-friendly as possible but feel free to ask me any questions about this process.

Once you have entered your information from Form 2 online and saved each Mandate for your claim, send me an email so I can look it over before you submit it, especially if your claim triggers an “upload request”. Thank you for doing all the work needed so that the submission process will run smoothly for you. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Lead in Water Testing Recommended in 2023 to Match Public School Requirements: Every three years the public school districts are required to complete lead testing of their drinking water. For that reason, we are recommending that you also arrange for another test for lead in your drinking water sometime before 12/31/2023. Although there is a cost to this, the cost for lead testing is fully reimbursable by NYS via the Nonpublic Safety Equipment funds (NPSE). If you have available funds to use up now, try to complete and pay for your tests before March 31, 2023 so that you can submit this amount for reimbursement; otherwise the reimbursement will not come until after March 31, 2024. Be warned: the cost to remediate any lead issues that you discover is currently not reimbursable by NYS Safety Funds.

  • The Diocese of Buffalo Department of Buildings and Properties can provide you with the names of vendors to contact for this service. Call them at 716-847-8750 for assistance.

  • Back in 2016 we also learned that the Niagara Falls Water Authority did Lead Testing for free for schools in their area. It might be worth asking if your own Municipal Water Authority will test your water for free.

CIDEL “Call to Leadership” Event on 3/11 for Administrators & Aspiring Administrators: I would like to invite you and your teachers to the CIDEL (Committee for Identifying and Developing Educational Leadership) “Call to Leadership” taking place on Saturday, March 5th from 8:30 am to Noon at Erie 1 BOCES (355 Harlem Road, West Seneca). The “Call” is a great event for teachers looking for more information on becoming a school leader while also supporting current school leaders. The cost for this event is $30 and CTLE credit is available for those who need it. Click here for information on the conference. This year's theme is “Elevating Student Voices: What do students want out of school?” We are so excited to have two Student Keynote Speakers this year: Rashard Perry & Jayden Lewis, Bennett High School Football Champions who will share thoughts on their journey of success and how school leadership impacted their endeavors. Following the keynote, we will have panels featuring Women in Administration, District Administration, Current Educational Leadership Students, and High School Students. I am the CIDEL co-Vice President and will be at the event if you need more information. Click here to register.

Previous posts from Mr. Riso

Athletics Info

Save the Date!

  1. Weekly principal Zooms at 9:00 am on Wednesdays
  2. Diocese of Buffalo day at the BPO, Feb 8th
  3. All-diocesan 7th & 8th grade dance, Feb 11th, Nardin Academy.
  4. Meeting with Catholic high school principals/presidents March 8th.
  5. Principal Meeting, March 9th.
  6. 8th grade retreat April 21st or 28th.
  7. Diocesan Awards Ceremony May TBA
  8. 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

St. Joseph University School - Afternoon prayer with Bishop Mike Fisher

Catholic School Matters Podcast

This season's Catholic School Matters podcast season is underway with a conversation with Middle States Executive Director Christian Talbot. We discuss the value of accreditation and the differences with strategic planning. 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

Jan 31, 2023 "Catholic Schools Week"

Jan 24, 2023 "Accreditation"

Jan 17, 2023 "AI Blog!"

Jan 10, 2023 "January Updates"

Dec 13, 2022 "Dreaming"

Dec 6, 2022 "Focus & Retention"

Nov 29, 2022 "4 Lessons from the Pandemic"

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.