Catholic School Matters

May 9, 2023

Security Workshop

Last month’s Nashville school shooting was different. It’s no longer a disaffected student or recent graduate from a large public high school targeting his/her school. A private, safe Christian school where everyone knows everyone could be a target of someone not affiliated with the school. It has caused us all to reexamine our security. Our parents are concerned and want to know what we’re doing.

To that end, the Diocesan Education Advisory Council and Insurance Services have organized a Security Workshop for Catholic schools. Yes, I know May is a busy time of year and this seems last minute. We wanted to do this now to help you plan for the summer in case any purchases or processes need to occur.

This workshop serves as a reminder of what we can do in the central office. We can convene our school leaders; we can bring outside consultants together to share best practices. What can we do together better? If each school wanted to contact these consultants, it’s unlikely they would have the time. In addition, we can all learn something from each other.

We’ve asked four people to present ideas and strategies for examining your campus security:

  • Scott Mack of ASSA ABLOY will discuss security hardware like locks and entryways

  • Jeff Rinaldo of VISTA Security will discuss security strategies.

  • Bill Naab of InkLabs will discuss their weapons detection systems and lessons learned.

  • Chris Riso will explain government funding sources

Our plan is for short presentations, sharing of resources, and Q & A. The program can be found here. Details: 7-9 pm at St. Andrew Country Day School, registration link here. It’s a free event, open to administrators, pastors, school staff members, and parish staff, too. We’ve asked for pre-registration so we know how many to expect as well the door prize competition, too.

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

Kari Buchinger on Academics

Thank you to all of the STREAM coordinators, teachers, principals, students, and parents that attended our X-STREAM Games event this past weekend. A huge thank you to St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute for hosting this exciting day. It was so much fun to see the incredible projects that students completed this year. The halls were filled with beautiful art, creative designs, and inquisitive projects. This year we hosted some classic events including: Shark Tank, Kitchen Chem, Robotics, Science Scrimmage and Arcade Academy. We also added a new public speaking competition. Students were invited to create presentations on a topic they were passionate about in hopes to inform or persuade the audience.

Congratulations to all of our X-STREAM Games winners!

Public Speaking

  • Ian Reynolds, St. John the Baptist Kenmore- Reptiles
  • Maggie Rochford, St. John the Baptist Kenmore- Why students shouldn’t have to wear uniforms.
  • Jack Murphy, St. John the Baptist Kenmore - Extinction

Shark Tank

This year our Shark Tank competition was taken over by the creative minds at St. John the Baptist School in Alden. Congratulations to Roanan who took home the award for best invention. He created a special seat to attach to picnic tables for his little brother. His brother joined the presentation and was very happy in his new seat.

Zoey, Gabriella, and Bailey from St. John the Baptist Alden won the award for best presentation. They worked together to create a very unique utensil washer. They were inspired by their family camping trips and needed a better way to wash all of their forks, knives, and spoons. Great work inventors!

Kitchen Chem

  • Best Transformation- St. Peter School
  • Tastiest Treat- St. Joseph University
  • Best Presentation- St. Gregory the Great School
  • Best Overall- St. John the Baptist Alden


Thank you to IDesign Solutions for the generous donations for the Robotics winners.

  • 1st Place DeSales and St. Peter School
  • 2nd Place DeSales and St. Mary’s Elementary School

  • 3rd Place Saint Andrews Country Day School and DeSales

  • Best Design St. Andrew’s Country Day School

Arcade Academy

  • 1st Place St. Gregory the Great School
  • 2nd Place St. Peter School
  • 3rd Place St. Peter School

Science Scrimmage

This year students took part in the Ping Pong Pick Up Challenges. They had to build a device to pick up a ping pong ball with the least amount of materials possible. Students could use paper, tape, string, and paperclips.

  • First Place- St. Gregory the Great 5th Graders
  • Second Place- St. Amelia’s School

Character Education Celebration

Please use this link to sign up the number of people from your school that plan to attend the Character Education Celebration on May 30 at St. Stephen’s Church on Grand Island. Registration will be closed on Tuesday, May 23.

Erie 1 BOCES Summer PD Catalog

Erie 1 BOCES has published their summer professional development offerings. I wanted to draw your attention to a few sessions that may be of interest for principals and teachers.

Phonics First- Level 1 7/31-8/4

This course is designed to equip teachers with the knowledge and skills they need to support beginning and struggling readers.

The NYSED Science Investigations and Computer Based Assessment for Elementary Teachers 8/24. This class is for fourth and fifth grade teachers to prepare for the new science investigations that will be in place during the 23-24 school year.

Youth Mental Health First Aid 6/7

Teachers and leaders will walk away with new information to help support adolescents who are experiencing mental health challenges.

Digital Storytelling at the Burchfield Penney 8/15

Attention STREAM coordinators. Burchfield Penney is one of our partners. This session may inspire some ideas for your STREAM grant this year.

QR Codes and Nearpod at the Botanical Gardens 8/8

The Botanical Gardens is another STREAM partner. This session also dives into Nearpod, a resource we receive through STAR. Teachers will have the chance to create educational resources in Nearpod and use QR codes to create interactive learning experiences for students.

Erie 1 BOCES 23-24 PD Preview

Take a look at the offerings for the next school year. There are several sessions on the new Science Investigations!

Previous "Academic Corner" posts from Kari

Office Updates

Here's the link to the Office Blog

Chris Riso on Government Services

NYS Enacted Budget Summary: The NYS Budget was enacted on 5/1/23. Some of the most notable changes are:

  • The legislature added $1.9 million to the Governor’s Proposed funding to help ensure that funding is sufficient to fully reimburse schools for Mandated Services and CAP. Thankfully, the legislature also rejected Governor Hochul’s proposal to eliminate the state’s commitment to fully reimburse schools for their mandated expenses.

  • STEM/MST Grant funding was increased 26 percent to $73 million.

  • School Nutrition Programs: The legislature added $134 million to provide free meals for all students in schools that have at least 40 percent of students already eligible for free/reduced price meals.

  • Instructional Material Aid: Lawmakers rejected SED’s proposal to shift the loaning of all instructional materials to the district in which a student resides (as it has been for textbooks). The aid amounts remain unchanged for Textbooks ($58.25 per pupil), Computer Hardware ($14.98 per pupil), Computer Software (around $12 per pupil), and Library Aid ($6.25 per pupil).

  • Minimum Wage: Lawmakers have enacted scheduled increases in the minimum wage per the following schedule. For the upstate/WNY region, all employers regardless of the number of employees, shall pay their employees an hourly rate of no less than:

    • $15.00 on and after January 1, 2024

    • $15.50 on and after January 1, 2025

    • $16.00 on and after January 1, 2026

    • Annual mandatory increases beginning January 1, 2027 (for all employers in the state) will be determined, in part, by the rate of increase of the Consumer Price Index, unless the CPI rate change is negative or there is an increase in certain unemployment numbers/rates.

I will update you as guidance documents related to these programs are released so you know how these changes will impact your school.

Hardware, Software, and Library Materials – Order through School District of Location: If you have not already done so for this school year, please make arrangements to order hardware, software, and library materials through the Public School District in which your school is located using the state funds available for such items to be loaned to you.

Advocacy: I continue to serve on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Federal Assistance Advisory Commission (FAAC). This Commission, made up of Catholic education practitioners, serves as an advisory group to the USCCB Secretariat of Catholic Education in its efforts to: maximize participation by Catholic school students and teachers in federally-funded educational programs; advocate on behalf of Catholic school students, teachers and administrators during reauthorization and/or revision of existing federal education programs; evaluate and support proposed federal legislation that could result in positive benefits for Catholic school students and staff and to oppose any such proposals that could result in negative outcomes; and monitor the implementation of federal statutes, as well as the development of regulations and guidelines that affect Catholic schools, including their students and staff. Our next FAAC meeting will take place this week in Washington, D.C and will involve advocacy appointments with some of our US Representatives; as a result, I will be out of the office from 5/10/23 to 5/12/23. Wish me luck as I continue to advocate for our Catholic Schools.

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. Details TBA
  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. Devotional Calendar 2022-23.
  4. The Fall 2022 Diocesan Health Scorecard; The spring 2022 Diocesan Health Scorecard.
  5. School Pastor's Administrative Guide
  6. "Principal Task List." This is organized as a living Google Doc by month.
  7. New Policy Manual for all Catholic schools in the Diocese of Buffalo.
  8. New Operations Manual for Diocesan Catholic schools.
  9. Administrator Goal Sheet and the new Administrator evaluation form

Articles for Your Reflection

60-Second Strategy: Double Circle

Catholic School Matters Podcast

This season's Catholic School Matters podcast season is back on the air. This week, Elizabeth Goettl joins the podcast to discuss her retirement from Cristo Rey schools and lessons learned. 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

My Last 5 Books

  1. The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality (2016) by Angus Deaton.
  2. Born in Blackness: Africa, Africans, and the Making of the Modern World, 1471 to the Second World War (2022) by Howard W. French

  3. Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It (2022) by Richard Reeves

  4. The Good Life: Lessons from the World's Longest Scientific Study of Happiness (2023) by Robert Waldinger & Marc Schulz

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

          Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

          Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

          May 2, 2023 "Strategic Planning"

          April 25, 2023 "Clarity"

          April 18, 2023 "School Security"

          March 28, 2023 "News & Notes"

          March 21, 2023 "Purpose & Mission"

          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!