Catholic School Matters

August 11, 2021

Another COVID opening

This morning, the Diocese of Buffalo released its advice on how to preserve as many 5 days of inperson instruction as possible, as well as promoting vaccinations and requiring indoor masks. There are a few other specific recommendations, too. This document (link here) can be shared with your board members, parents, staff, etc.

This would be a good time to remind people to subscribe to this newsletter which will be coming out weekly once the school year is underway (we'll be taking next week off).

These are confusing times once again as we all struggle for the right metrics to measure safety and our ongoing frustration with masks and restrictions. But our students are resilient and we all need to redouble our efforts to promote vaccinations.

Things will continue to change and we should next have an update on August 18th when we have our Adminstrators' Meeting. Here is the link to the information for our August 18th meeting. Here is the link to the slide deck for the meeting that I'll build up until the day of the meeting. I'm heading to the north of Vermont for a few days of vacation with the family so won't be reachable until next week. I'm looking forward to hiking, kayaking, reading, and beating my family in Cribbage. Repeatedly.

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

Office Updates

  1. You still have time to register for the Healey Foundation's Summer Summit for Catholic School Boards! On Tuesday, August 17, join nearly 100 Board Chairs, Board Members, Principals, Advancement Directors, Pastors and others who have already signed up for this one-day opportunity to learn and collaborate. Let's launch into the 2021-22 school year together through this informative, interactive virtual program beginning 8:00am CDT / 9:00am EDT. Read the Top 5 Reasons to Participate (PDF) & Visit our website for more details on session topics, panelists and presenters Register today, selecting the Full-Day Admission (FREE). After you've registered, within the app you can customize your schedule, including adding or excluding sessions on your calendar. You’ll also receive confirmation and future correspondence via Whova, our event management platform.

  2. Upon This Rock STREAM grant applications are due Sept 15th. Link here.

From Kari Buchinger

I will never forget the first day I walked into my school as a brand new first grade teacher. I sat down with the principal; he handed me a set of keys and walked me to my new third grade classroom. You read that correctly, third grade! After I processed that I wasn’t the first grade teacher, I looked around the room and thought, “what have I done, and where on earth do I start?”

This memory comes back to me every year as I sit down to plan new teacher orientation. I pray that none of your teachers receive a sudden position change as I did. Nonetheless, new teachers enter a school with its own identity, culture, and community, and it can be easy to feel like an outsider. Thoughtful programs and procedures can help your new teachers avoid this feeling of isolation.

It is important to ensure your new teachers have a person to turn to. This person may be an official mentor, a grade level team member, or the teacher across the hall. Having a go-to person allows new teachers to ask questions they may not want to ask school leaders. For example, “Do we have paper for the bulletin boards?” Partnerships like this allow you to know that no matter what, another person in the building is looking out for your new teachers. That should be a huge sigh of relief.

As you plan your own new teacher orientation, don’t forget to take the time to explain the little things unique to your school. This may include: making copies, taking attendance, ordering lunch, etc. Communicating essential operating norms ahead of time will make the first days of school much smoother for everyone. Jennifer Gonzalez’s new teacher checklist is an excellent tool to get you started.

We at the Department of Catholic Schools are looking forward to seeing your new teachers for orientation on Thursday, August 26, from 1 pm to 4 pm. RSVPs can be sent via the staff portal. This will be a great opportunity for collaboration with colleagues in Catholic education.

Academic Corner, August 4th

Kari's message to new principals August 5th

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

Review and Verify NYSED Level 1 & 2 Data on L2RPT – Review Deadline Moved to 10/1/2021

Verification reports are available in the Level 2 Reporting (L2RPT) environment by using the link available at in advance of final end-of-year data submission to help ensure that all data are reported accurately in SIRS (see These data are used to populate your Mandated Services claim so be sure the information is correct. If data must be updated, changes must be made to the local source system using the WNYRIC link above and the changed data must be reported again to Level 1/Level 2 of the SIRS. Data will be refreshed weekly in Level 2 of the SIRS until the deadline.

Level 2 Reports (L2RPTs) are available primarily to assist with data verification. School personnel are required to review the information contained in these reports. Please pay close attention to the counts within the various subgroup populations (e.g., racial/ethnic breakdowns, students with disabilities, limited English proficient, etc.), as these numbers will impact data reporting for these subgroups. Note that changes made to historical data using Level 0 Historical will be displayed within the Level 0 Historical system. These historical changes will be displayed in L2RPT only for current year (2020–21) cohort membership or the cohort’s secondary assessment scores. Reporting errors discovered as a result of a review of these reports must be corrected in the local source system and submitted to the SIRS. Guides for understanding these reports are available at

To enter the data site found at, click on “NYSED L2RPT” in the center of the webpage and then enter your NYSED Business Portal user ID and password on the login page. Once you are in the system, click on the last icon on the left side of the page (it says L2ROT Navigator” when you hover over the icon). The page that opens says “IBM Cognos Viewer – 0.0 L2RPT Navigation Dashboard” at the top and has all of the available reports. Here are some of the Verification Reports I recommend that you review by 8/20/2021:

Under “Annual Outcomes” on Left side of page:

1. Annual Outcomes Reports (SIRS-307, 308, 309) allow you to review annual dropout, noncompleter, graduate, postgraduate plan, and Regents examination results. These reports are not cohort-based and reflect activity reported by the school during the 2020–21 school year. Elementary schools should only look at the Regents Outcomes in SIRS-309.

Under “Tested/Not Tested” on Left side of page:

2. Tested/Not Tested Reports (SIRS-104, 301, 302) allow you to review counts of students who should have been tested and results for those who were tested on the New York State Identification Test for English Language Learners (NYSITELL), the grades 3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics assessments, the grades 4 and 8 science assessments, the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT), and the New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA). Results for grade 8 students taking a Regents science test in lieu of the Grade 8 science test may also be reviewed.

Under “Reasonableness” on Right side of page:

3. Reasonableness Report (SIRS-401) allows you to check data for significant year-to-year (2019–2020 to 2020–2021) changes that may indicate a reporting error. In particular, please check number of graduates and number of students eligible to take the NYSESLAT in lieu of the NYSTP for accountability purposes (students with a Program Service code of 0242). Particular attention should be paid to percentage changes equal to or greater than 10% and known reporting issues from previous years.

4. Annual Assessment At-A-Glance Report (SIRS-405) allows you to check data for significant year-to-year-to-year (2018–19 to 2020–2021) assessment changes that may indicate a reporting error. Particular attention should be paid to percentage changes equal to or greater than 10% and known reporting issues from previous years. FYI – Last year’s counts wer affected by COVID-19 so be sure to take that into consideration when reviewing this report.

Reprint: 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.

School Items for Sale at Our Lady of Black Rock School

Our Lady of Black Rock School, after removing the majority of inventory for its merger with Catholic Academy of West Buffalo, has excess inventory available. A partial list is found below.

· Teacher resource materials and resource books

· Elementary music instruments - tambourine, shakers, bells, etc.

· Dictionaries

· Library books

· Older computers

· Science Equipment - glassware, etc

· Christmas decorations

· Posters

· Assorted school supplies

· School furniture

A representative from the school will be available on Friday, August 13, 2021 for interested parties to view, purchase, and pick up items. Please be prepared to pay a nominal fee or make a donation for the items you decide to take. For more information, contact Michelle Keil at the school office at 716-873-7497.

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.

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.


  1. Here is the link to the information for our August 18th meeting
  2. Here is the link to the slide deck for the meeting that I'll build up until the day of the meeting.
  3. 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.

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
    4. Hunger for Hope: Prophetic Communities, Contemplation, and the Common Good (2020) by Sr. Simone Campbell

    5. American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West (2018) by Nate Blakeslee

            Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

            Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

            August 4, 2021 "Welcome Back"

            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.