Verdi Report

Faith in Tomorrow

The Diocese of Buffalo retained Verdi & Company, a Buffalo-based company dedicated to helping financial institutions and other organizations optimize the value of their distribution channels and networks. Based on information they produced on metrics and measures for Catholic schools as a whole and for each specific school, Verdi & Company developed five-year projections and presented them to Bishop Kmiec in June 2010.

Diocese Elementary School Network Analysis: Phase II

1. Objectives of the Project

This project analyzes the fifty nine elementary schools of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.

The work and deliverables comprising Phase II builds on and complements work completed in Phase I by Meitler Associates and supported by Verdi & Company (1Q—3Q 2009).

The focus of Phase II is the economics of the school system, market and demographic conditions, school system financials and economics and capacity for change. Deliverables of the project are intended to produce near term, actionable implementation initiatives that complement the long term elementary school plan.

The geographic scope of the project is the following western New York counties: Erie, Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Alleghany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties.

The objectives of Phase II are as follows:

(i) develop a three to five year plan for optimizing Catholic Diocese of Buffalo elementary school network;

(ii) produce an array of valuable and pertinent academic, economic, financial, demographic performance metrics and measures for the network overall and per school;

(iii) develop projections across a five year horizon for the network and each school;

(iv) produce a series of optimization scenarios for the network across a ten year horizon;

(v) develop optimization criteria for the network and for disposition of each school and determine role and function of each school in the network;

(vi) produce an implementation plan for the network and each school; and,

(vii) produce a usable database for Diocese management and staff.

Organization of Data and Scope of Analysis

Several different categories of data was collected and integrated into a structure that summarized the school network and market as a whole as well as per elementary school and sub-market (enrollment area). Three main categories of data was collected, organized, verified and analyzed. The perspective of data organization is from a macro view (eight county region) to micro (school enrollment and neighborhood area) view. The three categories of data are:

• Economic data, market, demographic and segmentation data
• Neighborhood condition and sub-market data
• School and school enrollment area data

All data collected and verified was placed in a large ‘master matrix’ organized at the school and school enrollment area level. The master matrix included economic, enrollment, financial, per class, enrollment area, demographic and other data. Using this approach each school and school enrollment area can be compared and contrasted with market conditions, overall school system, individual markets as well as other schools.

All geographic based data was geo-coded and presented spatially in a series of maps. School enrollment data was geo-coded and plotted in order to construct enrollment areas for each school. Enrollment areas were merged with demographic and socio-economic, neighborhood condition index data and household segmentation data. Areas of diocese school coverage, enrollment area ‘overlap’ and voids were produced.

Per school summary sheets, which organized descriptive variables from the master matrix, were produced for management.

A time horizon of five years was employed for all projections: demographic, economic, enrollment and financial projections. 

Objectives and Goals of Diocese Elementary Schools

The following objectives are found in the document, ‘A Vision for Thriving Catholic Elementary School Education in the Diocese of Buffalo’, ‘Visioning for the Future’ section. ‘Visioning for the Future project was completed November 2009. The list selects ‘statements that identify essential elements to sustain Catholic elementary education and viability over the long term. Vision statements selected here are those that are addressed (either directly or indirectly) in this phase of the planning process.

Identity and Leadership

Families from diverse backgrounds in terms of ethnicity, race, economic status and ability are welcomed, respected and served. School enrollment reflects the diversity of the parishes and local community being served.

Principals are state certified, highly skilled, professionally competent and participate in ongoing professional development and are actively involved in ensuring the long term viability of the school.

The school develops partnerships with local businesses, colleges and universities and social agencies to be involved with and invite involvement from the wider community.

It is the shared responsibility of principals, pastors, canonical administrators and board/councils (and Division of Catholic Education) to ensure the viability and sustainability of the school. 

Academic Excellence

Families recognize that Catholic schools are equal to or better than other educational options. The school excels academically, meeting or exceeding national, state and diocesan curriculum standards.

Teachers possess appropriate academic credentials, are professionally competent, actively engaged in ongoing professional development, and dedicated to Catholic school education as a ministry.

Technology is updated and available to teachers and students in the classrooms. Technology is understood as a tool to enhance the educational experience.

Extra-curricular and co-curricular programs that support and enhance the school’s mission and curriculum are offered for students.

Teachers resources are available that enhance the motivation of teachers and the quality of instruction.


Catholic schools build a strong image of quality education in the context of their Catholic mission. Schools are widely known and actively promoted for their excellence in education and faith formation throughout the Diocese.

Parents of school students, appreciate the worth of a Catholic education for their children. They value Catholic schools at a level that easily justifies a substantial investment.

Effective and well funded marketing and enrollment management programs support each school.

A school operates with optimal enrollment, allowing it to offer more program offerings, provide better stewardship of resources and more affordable education for all.

Catholic schools effectively retain students from pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade.

Enrollment patterns are stable and healthy enrollment is maintained in grades K, 1 and 2.

Current enrollment per classroom averages 20 to 25 students.

There is evidence that the future pool of children is stable and sufficiently large to meet the enrollment and financial needs of the school and justify its continuation.

The retention rate is 85 percent or above for each of the last three to five years. 

Financial Viability

Schools have sufficient revenue to fund a quality program, invest in technology and provide a well-rounded program.

Schools have a mature advancement/development program. Boards/councils are engaged and provide leadership for school development efforts.

Catholic schools are affordable for parents and parishes who desire a Catholic education for their children. Tuition assistance is available for families that desire a Catholic education for their children but for whom the opportunity is economically unreachable.

All parishes make a substantial and long term commitment to funding Catholic education.

Teachers, administrators and staff receive just and competitive compensation and benefits.

Facilities are well maintained, attractive and updated to support current educational programming.

The school is operating within a balanced budget and can be reasonably be expected to maintain a balanced budget for the next three years based on realistic projections of enrollment and finances.

The revenue mix is at or steadily progressing toward that which is recommended by the Diocese.

The school is able to compensate teachers justly according to established salary and benefits guidelines.

Parish investment is within the diocesan recommended range (25 percent). 


All facilities provide sufficient space for a classrooms and a quality program and are attractive, safe and well maintained.

Schools have the type of facilities, technology infrastructure and equipment needed to provide a quality Catholic elementary school education.

Sufficient space is provided for programs, or special classes including science, music and fine arts, worship space, library and resource room , health and human services, food service, physical education center and playground, to meet the diverse needs of students.

In planning renovated or new schools for the future, sensitivity for the environment and ecology will be valued.

Download the complete report here.

Diocese of Buffalo - Sign up for updates