Catholic School Matters

September 13, 2022

Diocesan Education Summit

One of our most important events this year is the Diocesan Education Summit November 10th at Niagara University. Most of you have probably seen the Save the Date announcement but are probably wondering what it’s all about. Bishop Fisher has asked all Catholic school stakeholders to come together to try to articulate a common vision for Catholic education moving forward. Bishop Fisher has declared a renewed focus on education which he outlines in this week’s “Journeys and Insights.”

Dr. Kevin Baxter, the director of Notre Dame’s ACE Remick Leadership program, will be delivering a keynote address. Kevin brings a wealth of experience from his time as superintendent in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as well as Chief Innovation Officer for NCEA. He’s also a current Catholic school parent who can speak to the challenges Catholic schools are facing nationwide as well as successes which are sprouting up, too. The day will also include a look at our data trends, Mass with Bishop Fisher, and some small group time to surface new ideas.

We plan to invite our private and independent Catholic school counterparts, college and university partners, and priests without schools. This should be a remarkable day for fellowship and collaboration. We’ve asked each school to bring four representatives (pastor, principal, board chair, and one other). I hope this date is on your radar and you’re planning to bring an open heart, curious mind, and willing spirit.

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

Each year the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) provides information about student performance and achievement in public and private schools across the United States. The same NAEP assessment is given in every state and allows for a common measure that allows for direct comparisons among participating districts. The most recently released report examined student achievement during the Covid-19 pandemic and the decline was significant.

Average scores for 9 year old students declined by 5 points in reading and 7 points in math compared to 2020. This is the largest average decline in reading since 1990, and the first ever decline in mathematics since NAEP’s inception in 1969. I would encourage you to take a moment to dive into this report here.

Why bring up NAEP you may ask? Well, we are tiptoeing into a new school year and the learning loss from covid is still hovering over our heads. Despite in person learning this past year, some of our students have gaps in their knowledge base and we must continue to fill those gaps and get students back on grade level and beyond.

In order to fill those gaps we also need to know where they are. Which is why our STAR assessments this year will be so detrimental.

At this point all principals should have their login information. From there, you can access all login information for teachers and students. We’ve already run into some hiccups and I’m sure more will be on the horizon as we get familiar with the new platform. If any questions arise please do not hesitate to reach out.

To get you started here are two short videos walking you through some key aspects of the Renaissance STAR platform. Video one is designed for teachers and principals to familiarize themselves with some key features of the platform. Video number two demonstrates the login process for students and what they can expect to see as they complete the reading and math assessments.

STAR Introduction

STAR Student View

Last Call Sign Up Reminder:

Do you have teachers you would like to sign up for Classroom Learning Labs? Details can be found in the handout; please use this registration form for each teacher you would like to participate. Please complete the registration form by September 14th.

Previous "Academic Corner" posts from Kari

Office Updates

  1. A group of SLU doctoral students are studying mentorship programs for new teachers. Please take a few minutes and help them! Here is the link to the survey. Deadline is September 24th, so don't delay.

  2. The 175th Anniversary Committee has developed a number of great resources for students & teachers to celebrate the diocese's demisemiseptcentennial anniversary, including sample lesson plans, tour guides, and a "Flat Timon" PDF for a social media contest. This will be found under "teacher resources" on our website but can also be accessed here.

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

  4. Save the Date for the November 10th Diocesan Education Summit!

  5. For all your STREAM-related content, check out the STREAM page

Chris Riso on Government Services

  • ASAP Send PDF/Copy of each Signed Title Funds “Written Affirmation” to C. Riso
  • 9/16/22 NCEA Enrollment Anchor Date – Count All Staff & Students
  • 9/16/22 Buffalo Public Schools Resident Listing Due (for Textbook Funding)
  • 9/30/22 NCEA Excel Form Due via Online Google Sheet
  • 10/5/22 BEDS Enrollment Anchor Date – Count All Staff & Students

NCEA Anchor Date 9/16/22: Remember that Friday, 9/16/2022 is the anchor date for the NCEA report; this means that you should print out all necessary student reports on that date to help you prepare your Excel spreadsheet (enrollment counts, race, Catholicity, parish membership, transportation, etc.). Thank you in advance for completing your report online using the Google Sheet shared with you by the 9/30/2022 deadline. You can find my introductory letter here and the NCEA Form Instructions here.

Fire Drill Requirements: While the warm weather is still with us, I wanted to remind you of the NYS fire drill requirements. NYS Educational Law requires emergency evacuation drills to include the following:

  1. The statute requires twelve drills be conducted each school year, four of which must be lock-down drills, the remaining eight are required to be evacuation drillsEight of the required twelve drills must be completed before December 31st.
  2. Based on this law, it is recommended that all Diocese of Buffalo Catholic schools conduct six Evacuation (Fire) Drills and two Lock-Down Drills prior to December 31 of each school year. Once the first eight drills are completed as recommended, two Fire Drills and two Lock-down Drills will remain to be conducted from January 1 through June 17. See the attached letter for more information and a sample tracking form.
  3. The updated 11/12/2020 “Nonpublic Fire Safety Report” and related info can be found at:

Please Share “2022-2023 Written Affirmation of LEA Consultation” Forms: Now that you have finished consultation on and signed each page of completed “2022-2023 Written Affirmation of LEA Consultation with Private School Officials” or each school district (for Title Ia, IIa, IIIa, IVa for your district of location; Title Ia only for all other districts), please email (or mail) me a copy of the signed forms. Thank you.

Annual Asbestos Notice (AHERA): The federal Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) requires all public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools to ensure that all school employees and building occupants, or their legal guardians, are informed at least once each school year about all asbestos inspections, response actions, and post-response action activities, including triennial reinspection and visual surveillance activities that are either planned or in progress. See this website for more information on this requirement.

The Buffalo Public Schools Textbook Residency List is due by 9/16/22. Be sure to complete this form and return it to by this Friday’s deadline.

Previous posts from Mr. Riso

Athletics Info

Please see the athletics/activities blog for the most up to date information.

Save the Date!

  1. Weekly principal Zooms at 9:00 am on Wednesdays. This week, Katie Jodush will be joining us to give us an "SEL Moment."
  2. 175th Anniversary Mass for 12th graders, Sep 27, 2022, 10 am at the Cathedral. Please RSVP here.

  3. Diocesan Professional Development Day October 7, 2022 at St. Amelia's.
  4. Diocesan Education Summit, November 10th. This is for principals, pastors/canonical administrators, board chairs, and one other stakeholder (4 from each school).


  1. Academic Initiatives for 2022-23
  2. The Diocesan Health Scorecard.
  3. School Pastor's Administrative Guide
  4. "Principal Task List." This is organized as a living Google Doc by month.
  5. Here's a link to the forms on our website.
  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

Catholic School Matters Podcast

The podcast kicked off this week with a great conversation with Rich Clark of Cleveland. He helped found a Cristo Rey High School and is now playing a pivotal role in Partnership Schoo's Expansion to Cleveland. He's a passionate advocate for Catholic education advocating for the expansion of this ministry.

Here is a link to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Catholic Education Stories

I'll be collecting stories on Catholic education at this site. This week's entries will get you caught up on a few issues which bubbled to the surface over the past few weeks:

Articles for Your Reflection

Back to School in the Diocese of Buffalo!

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: @drtimuhl

Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

Sep 6, 2022 "Welcoming the Virtues"

Aug 30, 2022 "Bowling Together"

August 23, 2022 "Strategic Planning"

For previous newsletters, click this link

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.