Catholic School Matters

November 8, 2022


This Thursday, we're gathering at Niagara University (one of only three Vincentian Catholic universities in the US) for our first-ever Diocesan Education Summit. We're beginning with Mass celebrated by Bishop Fisher and 30 con-celebrants and that's important. After all, we are a Catholic community and the Eucharist is the source and summit of all we do.

When we begin our sessions, I am sharing a lot of information. I thought I might share some interesting data here to preview the kinds of information that will be shared:

  • Our enrollment for Diocesan elementary schools is down 5% from last year, partly as a result of the closure of one school.
  • Our average salary for teachers fell. We retained only 70% of our teachers for a second year in a row and our average salary of 32k is only 40% of the public school average.
  • Our Kinder enrollments are off this year to the tune of -5 per school compared to the rolling 10-year average. Our 5-year enrollment trend is negative as well with the average school losing 31 students.

It's not all bad news, however. Simply the fact that close to 200 people will be attending is a sign of the importance of Catholic schools and the strong desire to get things turned around. Based on the four domains of the National Standards & Benchmarks, I offer four very simple suggestions for improvement:

  1. Connect the school to the parish more explicitly
  2. Give the Board a stronger role in the school
  3. Develop a stronger understanding of the use of the STAR assessment
  4. Offer more needs-based tuition assistance and move to a cost-based tuition model.

But those are only my suggestions. We'll see what bubbles up in the room where it will happen.

Two other tidbits. This is a link to an interactive Google map that shows the location of elementary & high schools in 1965 and today. It's a visual history of the impact of Catholic schools on the development of Buffalo.

Here's a link to the Top 15 Catholic Elementary Schools in terms of enrollment in 1965:

  1. St. Amelia (1553 students)
  2. St. John the Baptist--Kenmore (1422)
  3. Holy Family (1350)*
  4. St. Teresa's (1200)*
  5. St. Mary's of the Assumption (1120)
  6. St. Benedict (1108)
  7. Blessed Sacrament (1030)*
  8. Ss. Peter & Paul, Hamburg (1001)
  9. St. Francis of Assisi (989)*
  10. St. Aloysius Gonzaga (936)*
  11. Infant of Prague (910)*
  12. Queen of Heaven (900)
  13. Cathedral (896)
  14. St. Thomas Aquinas (895)*
  15. St. Josaphat's (860)*

*indicates a closed school

Without giving the individual enrollment, the seven schools above which are still open only average 259 students K8. The 15 above averaged 1,078 pupils in 1965. The world has changed!

As a matter of preparation, I recommend two articles. We won’t necessarily be discussing the articles in the presentations, but they will serve to spur your thoughts and give you some background information. The first article is from America magazine in 2019, “The Era of the Parochial School is Over” and presents some innovative new models for Catholic education. The second article is more recent and discusses education in general after the pandemic. Here is the link to that article. Again, this is not required, it is simply there to provoke your thinking.

Special thanks to FACTS for sponsoring lunch, Ink Labs for sponsoring the breakfast & coffee, and Renaissance for also providing major underwriting & swag.

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


Are you interested in STAR PD? We have the opportunity to participate in a Champions Academy which would allow one or two representatives from each school to spend three days learning everything you need to know about STAR testing and reporting. This is meant for the assessment leader in your building. That may be a principal, assistant principal, teacher leader, or technology coordinator. If you are interested please complete this form.

Science of Reading

Just last month we gathered together at St. Amelia School to grow as educators and find new ways to support students across our schools. I had the privilege to host a session about the Science of Reading and there was an overwhelming sense that there is so much research out there to digest and it is difficult to find the time. So, as promised I wanted to share a few resources that are a little easier to manage.. Amplify has done a fantastic job of creating easily digestible primers about the science of reading. This first document provides some background about reading achievement in the United States and a common goal to ensure everyone can read and understand text at a college-entry level or above. It dives into the brain science behind the process of learning to read with brief text and some great visuals. But today I want to draw your attention to five patterns that were identified as key instructional practices in high performing schools (48-52).

  1. Start early- Schools that have the greatest results are dedicated to getting students on track or ahead in kindergarten.

  2. Surround kids with books- students who read an extra seven minutes per day in class have higher reading rates than other students. That adds up to an additional 160,020 words per school year.

  3. Measure- Collect data, evaluate instruction and interventions, and adjust when needed.

  4. Create a support team- Bring together teachers and leaders that will follow the data and make sure students that need extra support get it!

  5. Beat summer- The summer slide is real. A few minutes of reminder exercises every week can reverse losses.

How does your school compare? Is there an element listed here that is a strength for you? What about an area for growth? Little by little as we grow in our understanding of the science of reading we can improve our instruction and approach to literacy and see increased student progress and achievement.

Previous "Academic Corner" posts from Kari

Office Updates

  1. To get registered for the Learning Platform, send Laurie W your staff emails and she'll get an account for everyone.

  2. The presentation that Catholic Charities gave at the October 27th Principals’ Meeting on Mandated Reporting & Crisis Management can be found 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.

Chris Riso on Government Services

NYS MST Grant Update - Year 4 (2020-2021): Last week I heard a rumor that checks for approved Year 4 MST Grant applications received by the August 1, 2021 deadline will be mailed out in December. Hopefully this is true!

NYS Health Care Worker Bonus (HWB) Program Deadline Extended to 11/30/22: NYSDOH became aware of several technical issues during the initial HWB submission periods for Vesting Periods 1 and 2 that impeded the ability of certain Qualified Employers to submit claims and will allow claims to be submitted through 11/30/22. Click here for more information.

COVID-19 Reporting: Last week NYSDOH released a webinar on COVID-19 reporting. The video confirmed that schools no longer have to submit a daily COVID report (Whew!) but that schools are expected to report some information to the County Department of Health. The NYSDOH stated that, “if a student or staff member tests at home and discloses a positive result to the school, the school should report the result to their LHD (Local Health Department)” and “if the school suspects that a student or staff member has COVID-19, the school should report the suspected case to their LHD.” You may want to reach out to your County Health Department to find out how they want you to report this information.

For schools in Erie County, I just talked with Olivia Humiston. She told me that schools can report positive cases they are made aware of by emailing her directly ( or calling the school line at 716-858-6525. She mentioned that in these emails/calls it would be helpful if you would provide the COVID-Positive Person’s Name and Date of Birth, Test date, and school name.

Previous posts from Mr. Riso

Athletics Info

With basketball seasons right around the corner, reminder to all coaches that one change to the Athletics Handbook is the requirement that every player gets to play every game. We also hope that if there are cuts, they are based on lack of commitment or effort, not on talent.

Congratulations to Nativity of Our Lord for their volleyball championship. The other Final 3 were Northern Chautauqua, St. John's (Alden), and Immaculate Conception (East Aurora).

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
  2. Diocesan Education Summit, November 10th. This is for principals, pastors/canonical administrators, board chairs, and one other stakeholder (4 from each school).


  1. Devotional Calendar 2022-23.
  2. October's Sportsmanship Videos
  3. The 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

Catholic School Matters Podcast

With so many events planned in October & November, the podcast is going on a little hiatus. This season's Catholic School Matters podcast episodes:

  • Dr. Kevin Baxter, the co-editor of Conscience & Catholic Education and the keynote for thisf all's Diocesan Education Summit. We discuss the book and how it pertains to current issues in Catholic education. Here is the direct link to the podcast episode.
  • I spoke to Shaka Rawls, the principal of Leo Catholic HS on Chicago's Southside. He is a dynamic leader of this predominantly African-American Catholic high school who describes the mission of the school as one which serves the community. Here is a direct link to the podcast.
  • I talk with Greg Richmond, the Superintendent of the Archdiocese of Chicago. In his second year, Greg comes from the charter world and shares his unique perspective on this new position which he loves.
  • This week's podcast gives us a chance to hear the perspective of a person fired from her position at a Catholic high school due to same-sex marriage.
  • Season 7 kicked off with a great conversation with Rich Clark of Cleveland. He helped found a Cristo Rey High School and played a pivotal role in Partnership School's Expansion to Cleveland. Our interview was recorded on September 2nd and Rich passed away on September 20th.

Here is a link to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Articles for Your Reflection

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

My Last 5 Books

  1. Everything Belongs (2003) by Richard Rohr
  2. Leading Change (1996 ) by John P. Kotter

  3. The White Noise of Survivorship (2022) by Tara Rolle

  4. On Change Management (2011) HBR's 10 Must Reads

  5. On the Edge: Your Catholic School Guide to Student Recruitment & Retention (2013) by Daniel Horn

          Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

          Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

          Nov 1, 2022 "Good News for Catholic Schools"

          Oct 25, 2022 "Updates"

          Oct 18 2022 "Health Scorecards"

          Oct 11, 2022 "Devotion & Sportsmanship"

          Oct 4, 2022 "Strategic Updates"

          Sep 27, 2022 "Cloud of Witnesses"

          Sep 20, 2022 "The Learning Platform"

          Sep 13, 2022 "Diocesan Education Summit"

          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.