Catholic School Matters
June 7, 2022
Blessed are the Peacemakers
I cannot accept that the new normal of life in the USA is gun violence. I cannot accept that we have a cycle of outrage and prayers and thoughts and then an acknowledgement that there’s really nothing we can do because of forces beyond our control. We need to have courage to face these forces and work to change this reality.
As we search for a way to prevent the massacres of innocents in grocery stores, churches, schools, and hospitals like has happened over the past month, I know the answer lies in some combination of common sense gun control, attention to mental health interventions, and building positive school cultures. It is not to harden our schools making them impenetrable fortresses. We don’t need our schools to look like prisons with 10 foot fences, barbed wire, and armed guards patrolling the hallways. That will subsequently defeat our efforts to make our schools more caring and places for flourishing.
If you don’t believe this is a problem, read this run down of mass shootings in the USA during 2022. It’s striking to me that every shooter is male. We also have a problem with glorifying guns which has become mixed up with definitions of masculinity. Bishop Flores of Brownsville calls for a recognition of this and if you want to read more I recommend Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation.
Where to start with gun control? This is a great blog post running down many angles of how to approach sensible gun control. We’ve had two 18 year olds purchase and use AR-15s this month and another person purchase and use an AR-15 in Tulsa. We have too many assault rifles in circulation. Why is it easier to purchase and own an assault rifle than a car? By requiring registration & licensing and enforcing rules about driving we are not taking away one’s ability to drive. The second amendment does not guarantee one unfettered access to assault rifles. This post offers great suggestions about how to prevent school shootings.
Building positive cultures responsive to mental health needs is the subject of this great post. I can’t help but think that the outbreak of violence is related to the fear and restrictions of the past two years. We have become disconnected in many ways and it’s time to rebuild our communities. I don’t think the answer is strictly more counselors and a reliance on interventions. While those are important, we should focus on the positive ways we can impact school cultures upstream of the problems.
To that end, we’re going to spend a considerable amount of time and resources to launch two separate initiatives. First, we’re planning to develop a monthly character trait next year and honor students across the diocese who demonstrate good character such as hospitality, manners, sportsmanship. We want to teach and celebrate positive behavior and make our schools nicer places.
Our second initiative is launching more sports and activities for all students. We’re interested in getting more students involved with emphases on fun, sportsmanship, and camaraderie. We are planning to offer more than competitive sports leagues. We’d like to offer activities such as bowling, chess, and kickball to get more students involved. Our STREAM department will be offering a science fair, math competitions, spelling bee, and other academic contests. Each of these activities should drive more school clubs and intramural activities, too. We want to connect more students to their schools and to each other.
I encourage you to expand your school offerings for clubs and activities in order to build community in your schools. And I encourage you to have courage to change this new normal into a more just and safer world.
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
As we wrap up another school year and turn the corner into summer, hiring for open positions is on everyone's mind. This past year our schools have certainly felt the impact of the current teacher shortage and have had to get creative to ensure students continue to receive a high quality education. One of the initiatives that we have discussed this year was finding candidates that are currently employed in our schools that are interested in pursuing a degree and teacher certification. Now is the time! Do you have classroom assistants, specials teachers, or members of your school community that you think would make strong Catholic educators? Niagara University has developed pathways and offers reduced tuition plans for Catholic school educators. These pathways will allow them to continue their current positions as they work toward their program completion. Please send me the name and contact info email@example.com.
Previous "Academic Corner" posts from Kari
We are planning to send out electronic copies of your school health scorecards to pastors/canonical administrators and board chairs this week.
As you plan for your professional development programs for next year, keep in mind that Kari ("The Science of Reading" and "Core Instructional Practices"), Chris ("Serving all Learners") and Dr. Uhl ("Distributing Leadership") can all be scheduled.
Chris Riso is reaching out to schools who have expressed interest in the Virtual Math Academy for middle school. If you'd like to be involved in the planning, please let Chris know via email.
We have decided not to offer the Principal retreat this summer.
Eric County Opiate Epidemic Task Force announced Narcan use training for summer 2022.
If you're interested in learning about the passive Evolv weapons detection system, email the office. It's mobile, expensive, but effective (e.g. used by Disney parks).
Here is the tentative list of dates for meetings & activities for the 2022-23 school year which includes a new date for final principal meeting of the year (now in June, not May).
Chris Riso on Government Services
NYSED MST/STEM Grant Submission Deadline 8/1/2022: Over the next month you may want to consider working on your NYSED MST Grant application. The 2021-2022 school year Program Guidance and Reimbursement Form Instructions and Reimbursement Form for the New York State Grants for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Teachers in Religious and Independent Schools (MST) – year 5 has been released and can be found here. The paper application must be RECEIVED by NYSED by Monday, August 1, 2022 or else submitted online via the NYSED Business Portal with all attachments by that date. Please see the 5/3/22 Catholic School Matters for my advice on filling out your application.
Consultation Summary Forms Available for Title Ia, IIa, IIIa, and IVa: If you end up having students who might qualify for Title I funding, make sure you arrange to meet with the district for consultation about Title I before signing any pages of the “Written Affirmation” form beyond page 3. I have adapted the official form into a “Consultation Summary” that you can use when you talk to the districts to ensure they cover every topic required (Title I guidance here; other title program summaries here); please consider using these summary forms when you meet with the districts to help guide your conversation on each of the Title programs and take notes on the meeting to compare with the final version of the “Written Affirmation” form they create for you to sign. I have added some references to the District’s Consolidated Application on these forms that might help you to ensure that the Per Pupil Amounts on your form were calculated properly. One final reminder: please be sure to make a copy or take a picture of any forms you sign before you give them to the public school district.
Written Affirmation for 2022-2023 Title Funding Consultation: NYSED has released the “2022-2023 Written Affirmation of LEA Consultation with Private School Officials” this week. This is the form that each public school district from which you have children at your school will ask you to sign this summer. If you are currently working with districts on Title I, Title IIa, or Title IVa consultation, you may want to share this form. The nice thing about this form is that it first asks on pages 2 and 3 if you wish participate in each Title while also asking if you have eligible students (for Title Ia, IIa, IIIa, and IVa) or whether the grants are applicable due to your geographic location (for Title IIa, IIIa, and IVa). This should make completing the form much easier because for Titles you are not eligible or qualified for you will not need to complete the associated consultation pages.
One of the questions on page 3 of the form asks if you are interested in receiving a copy of the LEA’s 2022-23 Consolidated Application; I am asking that you check the box here to request a copy of each District’s Consolidated Application. A sample of this form can be found here. I would highly recommend that you obtain a copy of their draft consolidated application, or at least specific sections of it, prior to signing your “Written Affirmation” form. Looking at this form over last year, specifically pages 13 to 17, 21, 33, and 41 to 43, I was able to determine if the district had accurately calculated your allocation amounts for Title Ia, Title IIa, and Title IVa. A summary of your participation will show on page 41 after they update the form with your information after consultation. After checking the box to request a copy of an LEA’s 2022-2023 Consolidated Application and receiving an “approved” copy in January or February, please consider sharing your copies with me as a digital scan.
I would like to remind you once more that you should not sign a Written Affirmation form that is incomplete, especially page 6 – Section 4: Services to be Provided. This page must show the number of students, a “Per Pupil Amount,” and a “School Allocation” for each Title you are eligible for and participating in along with a description of the program services agreed upon during consultation before you sign it. Please see the attached for further explanation of how the Per Pupil Amounts (PPAs) on this page are calculated based on the information in the District’s Consolidated Application.
Should you find that you and the District disagree on any topics of consultation, please fill out Section 5: Disagreement; even if you do not have a disagreement, both your signature and the district’s signature on this page confirm that this entire form was completed entirely – do not sign this until all sections are completed by the District! Make sure you get the District to sign the completed form and make a copy for your records.
I hope this helps you prepare for the upcoming consultation with your school districts. Please do not hesitate to call me if you have any questions about the process or problems with districts during consultation.
COVID: The NYS Department of Health notified us on 6/2/2022 that 10 NYCRR 2.62 has been extended through June 30, 2022. After 6/30/22, schools will not be required to test unvaccinated teachers and staff weekly, nor will they be required to offer weekly screening testing to students.
NYSED Elementary AIS Funding Information – Reimbursement Forms and Guidance
End of Year Checklist for Government Programs
1. Eight required Fire Drills and four required Lockdown Drills have been completed.
2. Complete a written 2022-2023 Professional Development Plan based on identified student concerns and faculty/school needs.
3. Elementary AIS Reimbursement form is due by 6/30/2022.
4. Arrange for Title I, Title IIa, Title III, and Title IVa consultation with the public school district of school location prior to signing the “Written Affirmation of LEA Consultation” form in August. You will need to consult with other districts for Title I funding and services, only, based on qualified 2021-2022 free/reduced or similar poverty lunch counts.
5. Based on your Professional Development Plan for 2022-2023, start to think about where you will “keep” your Title IIa funds: with the School District of location, Erie 1 BOCES, NYSCIRS, or any combination of those three options.
6. 2021-2022 Mandated Services Folder – Receipts (BOCES; Scoring Workshop Fees; calculator purchases), Test Scorer Training Agendas & Sign in Sheets, Test Rosters with status clearly identified (Completed vs. Opt-outs; Exempt Students), copy of your Comprehensive Attendance Policy, copy of your Documentation of Integration of Required Instruction in 7th and 8th Grade (DIRI-Mandate 9), copy of school calendar showing student days in attendance and teacher days worked (after removing snow days).
Complete the School-specific Excel spreadsheet in July or August.
7. School Safety Plan – If not updated recently, set up June or summer meetings to update or convert your emergency plan to a “School Safety Plan” before school begins next fall.
8. Review NYS Teacher Certification Status of your teachers here
9. Textbook Ordering – follow district or BOCES procedures and meet deadlines.
10. NYSED MST Teacher Reimbursement Request is due 8/1/2022.
6/10/22 Complete 2022-23 Professional Development Plan (Recommended)
6/17/22 Complete 12 Required Drills; Four must be Lockdown Drills
6/30/22 AIS Reimbursement Form Due to NYSED – Elementary Schools Only
7/1/22 First day 2022-2023 Textbook Orders are allowed
8/1/22 NYSED 2021-2022 MST/STEM Grant Submission Deadline
Previous posts from Mr. Riso
Save the Date!
- July 13th Budgeting workshop at St. Stephen's parish. All school bookkeepers and principals are invited to share best practices around budgeting and financial reporting.
- August 18th all-day principal meeting. We'll start the day at 8:00 at St. Amelia's parking lot. More details to come. We'll close the day with happy hour and dinner so you might want to block the entire day!
- Weekly principal Zooms at 9:30 am on Wednesdays.
- 175th Anniversary Mass for 8th graders, Sep 20, 2022, 10 am at the Cathedral
- Diocesan Professional Development Day October 7, 2022 at St. Amelia's.
- Language for Anti-Bullying & Harassment for your handbooks, addressing hate speech, and the Diocesan DEI statements can be found here.
- We recorded a few short videos on May 12th from our veteran principals offering new principals advice. I had never used iMovie before, this is my first attempt. This is an 8 1/2 minute video with five different voices.
- The Diocesan Health Scorecard.
- The "Shoot for the Stars" one-hour TV special.
- School Pastor's Administrative Guide
- The Executive Summary. of this year's school data.
- Video recording of All-schools Mass at OLV with Bishop Fisher. Here is the link to Dr. Uhl's talk.
- "Principal Task List." This is organized as a living Google Doc by month.
- Here's a link to the forms on our website.
- New Policy Manual
- New Operations Manual
- Administrator Goal Sheet and the new Administrator evaluation form
Catholic School Matters Podcast
This week on the podcast, Dr. Molly McMahon of the Roche Center joins me to discuss problem solving in leadership and leadership formation. Previous episodes:
- Dr. Clare Kilbane of the McGrath Institute at the University of Notre Dame, joins me to discuss collaboration and Catholic identity
- Leticia Oseguera, the superintendent-elect for the Diocese of San Diego, joins me to discuss why she wants to be a superintendent and how her Latina heritage has shaped her leadership
- Kari Buchinger and I discuss the Diocesan Health Scorecards. We discuss how they came about, how they evolved, who was involved, and how we collected the information.
- I take a look at controversies that have impacted Catholic schools. There is not a guest! It's just me exploring the issues. There is a resource page, too.
- Earlier this month, the podcast features a great panel to provide a primer on the latest Congregation for Catholic Education's document, "The Identity of a Catholic School for a Culture of Dialogue": Dr. Melodie Wyttenbach, the Executive Director of the Roche Center; Dr. John Piderit, SJ of the Roche Center; and Dr. Lauren Casella of Loyola Marymount.
- Dan Horn, the President/Principal of St. Genevieve Parish Schools, joins the podcast to discuss his successful turnarounds at two separate Catholic school sin the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Dan is a transformational leader whose story is inspiring
Here is a link to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.
Articles for Your Reflection
Staying Positive and On-Track in Uncertain Times
Leaders have had a very tough two years, trying to reassure and focus employees in the face of constant uncertainty, often struggling with their own stress and burnout as they address the rising mental health challenges of their employees. How can they stay centered, providing a clear and upbeat message to their teams while having to pivot frequently as conditions change?
After 143 years in operation, St. Aloysius Catholic School in Springville is closing
St. Aloysius Regional Catholic School in Springville is slated to close this month after 143 years in operation. With a current enrollment of only 50 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, and only 13 students registered for next year, the school's Board of Trustees recommended the closure.
Dual-language Risen Christ Catholic School in Minneapolis ascends to new life - TheCatholicSpirit.com
Back in 2016, Rosa Brandt was on a mission. She and her husband, Barry, needed to choose a school where their older daughter could start kindergarten that fall. Both parents wanted a Catholic school that offered dual immersion in English and Spanish.
Analysis | Supreme Court likely to drop school voucher bombshell
Placeholder while article actions load The public focus on upcoming Supreme Court rulings has been on Roe v. Wade , the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, and the Dobbs v. Jackson draft opinion overturning that precedent. But the court will also soon be handing down a decision in another case that could cause an earthquake for public education.
362 School Counselors on the Pandemic's Effect on Children: 'Anxiety Is Filling Our Kids'
American schoolchildren's learning loss in the pandemic isn't just in reading and math. It's also in social and emotional skills - those needed to make and keep friends; participate in group projects; and cope with frustration and other emotions.
The Science Is Clear: Gun Control Saves Lives
Some editorials simply hurt to write. This is one. At least 19 elementary school children and two teachers are dead, many more are injured, and a grandmother is fighting for her life in Uvalde, Tex., all because a young man, armed with an AR-15-style rifle, decided to fire in a school.
Healing of the Eucharist is needed to repair scandal, says Iowa archbishop
DUBUQUE, Iowa (CNS) - Rather than being denied Communion, Catholics who cause scandal in their defiance of church teaching should be allowed to receive the Eucharist as the "healing remedy" Christ gave to his followers, said Archbishop Michael O. Jackels of Dubuque.
My Last 5 Books
- Collaborative Professionalism: When Teaching Together Means Learning for All (2018) by Andy Hargreaves & Michael T. O'Connor
40 Days with God: Time Out to Journey with the Bible (2021) by Kent Hickey
Strategic Planning for Parishes (2021) by Tad Dickel
Hidden Mercy: AIDS, Catholics, and the Untold Stories of Compassion in the Face of Fear (2022) by Michael O'Loughlin
Click this link for a full list of my professional reading
Past Issues of Catholic School Matters
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.