Insights & Analysis

Education, K-12, Opinion

NAEP Releases “Nation’s Report Card” to Reveal Pandemic-Related Learning Loss

According to the Nation’s Report Card, an annual assessment of student achievement delivered by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), reading and mathematics scores declined during the COVID-19 pandemic, something many feared and expected would happen.

According to their 2022 analysis, “Average scores for age-9 students in 2022 declined 5 points in reading and 7 points in mathematics compared to 2020. This is the largest average score decline in reading since 1990, and the first ever score decline in mathematics.”

Now is our chance to reverse these trends, and get our students back on track.

Education, Fiscal Health, K-12, News

How to Remove Uncertainty, Headaches and Human Error from School Finance Administration

The Munetrix Financial Module helps districts increase transparency on fiscal, operations, safety, and other compliance reporting with their community. The Financial Module also provides districts with tools that make managing and reporting on capital improvement projects, benchmarking/peer analysis, debt obligations, check expenditures, budgeting, forecasting and scenario building – EASY!

Education, Fiscal Health, K-12, Municipal, Opinion, Webinars

Watch Webinar Replay: How to Battle Inflation with Better Budgeting

Tips and Methodologies for Battling the Uncertainty of Inflation in Budgeting

Watch the replay of an informative webinar on how inflation may impact your school district or municipality. Munetrix hosted David Zin, Chief Economist for the Senate Fiscal Agency, who joined Buzz Brown, to share insights on how the current rising inflation may impact the fiscal health of school districts or municipalities. Also learn how different budgeting tools and techniques can help reduce fiscal stress across your organization.

Education, Fiscal Health, Municipal, Opinion

Has Inflation Made You Rethink and Retool Your Budget?

Persistent and historically high inflation is dramatically impacting municipalities nationwide, in some cases completely altering prior projections and forecasts. Some municipal leaders are finding it necessary to completely rethink and redraft their budgets in order to reflect the new realities. And if they’re forced to do things the old way, they’re also doubling down on time, resources and labor already expended to repeat work they thought was once complete. Munetrix can introduce you, your team and your processes to advanced technology and new methodologies that can inject greater confidence and flexibility into budgets and forecasts, even accounting for dynamic, ever-changing scenarios.

Education, Fiscal Health, K-12, Municipal, Opinion

The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth

How to Apply Comparative Analytics to Make Better Decisions and Forecasts

American computer scientist Kurt Bollacker once said that, “Data that is loved tends to survive.”

While many of us might find it difficult to “love” data, it is the lifeline of the organizations we run. Data tells us how we’ve performed in the past, what is likely to happen in the future, and how we can alter the path forward, for better or worse. So while we may prefer to ignore data than love it, we do so at our own peril.

In fact, too often, leaders of public institutions like schools, districts and municipalities either willingly or through benign neglect fail to apply a necessary love of data, and in doing so, fail to maximize the potential to make better decisions and more accurate forecasts.

Too many times, it is tempting to believe that you have all of the data you need, when in reality, there is data out there…keeping secrets from you…causing you to “not know what you don’t know”…and as a result, potentially leading you to draw inaccurate conclusions and make under-informed decisions. Not only can leaders fail to see the big picture, they may be looking at the wrong picture altogether.

After the past two years, and the uncertainty of what lies ahead, it’s never been more critical to have the most complete data set possible so that we are making the most informed decisions and the best possible prognostications.

Comparative Analytics and Errors of Omission

The future of planning and budgeting is something called “comparative analytics.” Put simply, comparative analytics refers to the process of examining your own organization’s data and performance against those of your peers and competitors to draw more informed conclusions and to make better decisions. It’s a methodology for avoiding one of the greatest perils to critical decision-making: thinking we have all of the information we need and omitting a potentially decision-changing data set.

The good news: For schools and municipalities, the performance and budgeting data for all of your competitors and benchmarked peers is publicly available. All you have to do is go find it.

If you can view your own historical data and forward-looking projections against those of neighboring entities with whom you may be competing, won’t you be able to make more confident decisions and more strategic allocations of time, treasure and talent? Anything less, and you’re making critical decisions in a vacuum.

To provide just one illustrative example, let’s say you’re examining a school district’s expenditures on instructional investments for the past three years, and the data show that the district is accounting for 10% annual increases in that budget category. Sounds promising. The district appears to be investing in educational outcomes, the chief metric for educational excellence. 

Not so fast. Unfortunately, all that data set provides is an insular, backward-looking reporting of past events — and only the district’s own. Now imagine a scenario in which district leadership could instantly compare their own budget allocations against a neighboring district. Suppose the neighboring district is reporting student achievement data that far surpasses the first district. And then imagine that, through just a few clicks, we can see that the outperforming district is allocating a much larger budget to instructional line items, likely accounting for (at least in part) the better achievement outcomes. Despite the scheduled 10% increases, the spending gap remains large between districts, and so does the disparity in student achievement.

In other words, while District A at first blush appears to be investing in educational priorities, when we look at the big picture, we discover that District B is far outpacing District A in student achievement and taking an entirely different approach to prioritizing instructional spending.

How that might change District A’s assessment of its own budget allocations, and how might that data inform a decision about how to allocate public funding going forward?

Failing to “love” all of the data, in this example, is how an error of omission can quickly lead to errors of commission.

How to Avoid the Most Common “Errors of Omission”

If getting access to the complete set of all available data were difficult, we’d understand why someone might be tempted to take shortcuts or expedite decision making. But practically everything a public employee or leader needs to equip themselves for optimized decision making is publicly available, much of it required by mandate to be made readily accessible. So given that the “secrets” are out there, let’s examine what some of the most common self-inflicted errors of omission tend to be:

(If you would like any of the following reports pulled for your district or municipality and its relevant peers, contact us and we will send you a PDF report within 48 hours at no cost or obligation).

Error #1: Not Going Far Enough Back

The more historical perspective you have, the better you are able to draw conclusions as to what’s driving trends, and what’s likely to change or continue. Too often, data analysts look only one or two years back, when there could be some revelatory trend data hiding in the entity’s more distant past that would prove informative and applicable to the present and the future.

10-year historical analysis

Error #2: Missing the Comparative Intelligence

Looking at your own data only is an error of omission that can, as illustrated above, lead to errors of commission. Here we look at comparative analytics that demonstrate how a sample school district allocates its own budget categorically relative to how all districts within that region do. Now we know if we are overspending, underspending, or misallocating resources, based on how our peers are doing their own budgeting. Look at the disparities and gaps, and consider what that data is trying to tell you.

Budget allocation peer-comparison report

Error #3: Failing to Connect the Dots

How is budgeting data aligned with performance metrics? Isn’t that the key to truly understanding whether our budgeting decisions and forecasts are aligned (or misaligned) with outcomes? With just a few clicks, you should be able to overlay key performance indicators with budgeting inputs to see if you’re getting sufficient return on investment, or whether you need to redirect funds and either double down or reallocate resources.

Overlay data sets to spot trends and performance drivers

Error #4: Not Seeing How Small Data Drives Big Trends

If you’re not examining historically significant data sets, and you’re not comparing both past performance and future forecasting against competitors or peers, you can’t possibly draw accurate correlations and conclusions relative to drivers of big-picture trends. One of the most critical trend data sets for schools and districts, for example, is enrollment. Enrollment data not only reflects success metrics of all kinds, it directly impacts per-pupil funding. The small discrete data points all come together to influence the larger trends we all hold dear and measure ultimate success or failure by. Failure to put the pieces together and see the entire puzzle is perilous, and an unforced error in the modern age.

Data visualizations matched with trend analysis provide a clearer picture yet.

Love the Data that Survives

Perhaps it’s too heavy a lift to expect everyone within leadership at public institutions to truly “love” data. But we do urge that those in positions of critical decision-making at least embrace all that data has to offer…and all that lies in wait to undermine decisions if leaders neglect to listen to the secrets data is keeping from them.

That “loved” data will not only survive, as Bollacker suggests…it will help government institutions thrive.

Unlock the best-kept secrets today! If you would like any of the referenced reports above (or others) pulled for your district or municipality and its peers, contact us and we will send you a PDF report within 48 hours at no cost or obligation.

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30-Second Preview of Munetrix in Action:

Municipal, News, Press Releases

Dynamo Metrics Joins the Munetrix Family

It is with great enthusiasm that we share with you the exciting news that Dynamo Metrics, a leading provider of planning and analytics software for government and public sector entities, is joining the Munetrix family! While this announcement will have no immediate impact on our existing relationships with clients, vendors and others, we are extremely optimistic about what this means relative to our ability to better serve municipal governments going forward, with more solutions, deeper resources, and broader expertise.

What brings us so much optimism about Dynamo Metrics joining Munetrix is that Dynamo Metrics provides a distinct but complementary solution set and domain expertise that will only enhance what we are able to offer the communities we serve. Founded in 2014, Dynamo Metrics shares our mission of making data-driven governance easy, so communities can better communicate with their constituents, delivering a culture of community through trust, transparency and compliance.

Co-Founders Nigel Griswold and Ben Calnin, who are joining our management team, founded the company on the premise that better data drives better decision making. For nearly a decade, they’ve been working with local governments to deliver metrics, insights, and reports that help demonstrate impact, increase collaboration, and support strategic decision making. To learn more about the company and its team, please visit www.dynamometrics.com.

Buzz Brown, CEO of Munetrix, commented: “We appreciate the value Dynamo Metrics and their team brings to the Munetrix family. We see tremendous opportunities to create unique insights for customers using the robust property-level Dynamo Metrics solution. Together we will help leaders improve communities through neighborhood revitalization and other programs using comprehensive, easily digestible data and tools that help to analyze where to make investments that will be most rewarding.”  

Nigel Griswold and Ben Calnin, co-founders of Dynamo Metrics, added:  “Partnering with Munetrix will allow us to accelerate the growth of Dynamo Metrics and better serve our customers, through a broader platform and enhanced resources and investment.”

Dynamo Metrics provides software that delivers insights about neighborhood health that helps municipalities target, maximize and communicate the impact their work has on the community, down to the parcel level, adding a more granular level of specificity to the data and insights Munetrix has been delivering for more than a decade.

We will be sure to keep you updated as exciting developments emerge, such as new products and services or additional data and integrations that will be available to you and your peers going forward.

Municipal

Capital Improvement Manager for Government in Michigan

Munetrix offers the most robust and easiest to use capital improvement manager for government in Michigan. The Capital Improvement Manager™ is a database solution to store and manage capital projects to provide an easy year-over-year solution to creating a Capital Improvement Plan, start to finish.

Multi-level reports in the Capital Improvement Manager tool for municipalities in Michigan aggregate all your projects to create a complete top-to-bottom capital improvement plan for as many years out as you wish, or view supplemental reports individually. Our solution for capital improvement tracking provides an industry tested project scoring feature that ranks capital projects numerically to easily determine which projects should be top priority

Municipalities in Michigan use the built-in questionnaire in the capital improvement manager for government entities in Michigan to mathematically distinguish which projects should take precedence-based on a ranking system designed to take federal and state mandates into account as well as municipal needs.

To learn more about how cities, townships, villages and other municipal governments in Michigan are using the Munetrix Capital Improvement Manager, watch this video that demonstrates how a commitment to community-wide data literacy can actually serve to restore public trust and confidence in our government institutions.

A Closer Look at the Capital Improvement Manager for Government in Michigan

The Capital Improvement Manager provides countless benefits and features for city managers, supervisors and other planning professionals. The details specs include:

  • Fully detail each project with scope, justification, alignment with goals, and add images to accurately present each project in a clear and polished fashion
  • Quick generating reports that break capital expenditures for any number of years out by department, fund, funding source, priority, and several more
  • Add narrative and background information through easy text attachments while also customizing which projects are shown

Contact us to see a free demo and to learn how the Munetrix Capital Improvement Manager for governments in Michigan is making it easy for cities to eliminate difficult and time-consuming 6-year capital improvement plans through database management. Update all projects on a continuous, as-needed basis.

Education, K-12

Academic Achievement Reporting Software for Schools in Michigan

As educator evaluations and student progress continue to be scrutinized, many public schools are investigating and implementing academic achievement reporting software for schools in Michigan and across the United States.

Educators and administrators are constantly and consistently being asked to do more with less. The Munetrix Academic Module 2.0 is the most comprehensive data analytics solution for educators in one suite of apps, harvesting and contextualizing publicly available data and privately generated data in one powerful combination. 

The Academic Module 2.0 provides districts and schools with unique, holistic academic achievement reporting software for schools in Michigan that empowers districts to analyze all of their data with a single log-in and destination, supporting horizontal succession planning, building institutional knowledge, and workflow management all in one place.

Munetrix collects and aggregates the essential data your school district needs to share its impact on fiscal and academic outcomes. We put the data at your fingertips so you can spend more time on what matters — educating students!

Why Munetrix’s Academic Achievement Reporting Software for Schools in Michigan

In our view, the complete data set comprising performance analytics for schools in Michigan include everything from financial metrics to academic performance

Financial performance analytics solutions include modules for budgeting, chart of accounts planning, forecasting, scenario building, debt management, peer benchmarking and capital improvement management.

Academic achievement reporting software solutions for schools in Michigan should include software modules for student achievement data, progress monitoring and MTSS, educator evaluations, student needs assessments, student reporting data, student migration and enrollment trends, and much more! Ours does.

Both our financial and academic achievement solutions for schools in Michigan are fully integrated with state-of-the-industry interoperability that meet or exceed the latest educational and IT standards. You can now easily see how your school is performing — financially, academically, socio-economically, populationally, educationally — with only a few clicks, and in real time!


If your school district administrators and educators are being tasked with “doing more with less” in keeping pace with today’s educator evaluations metrics, contact us to schedule a demo of our easy-to-use and easy-to implement academic achievement reporting software for schools in Michigan today!

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