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Education, K-12, Webinars

Watch Webinar Replay: School Transparency Reporting Made Easy

Fiscal and Academic Reporting in Minutes, not Hours!

Transparency reporting is essential to building public trust, consensus and confidence. Several states across the nation require school districts to publicly post financial documents, student achievement data, safety information, district plans/policies and more.

Munetrix makes transparency reporting quick and easy, with simple tools to upload documents or links. All of this can be accomplished with minimal use of technology department personnel/resources.

Watch the replay of our recent Webinar to learn how transparency reporting can be easy with Munetrix.


Education, K-12, Webinars

Watch Webinar Replay: The 31a Reporting Toolkit for “At-Risk” Reporting

31a “At-Risk” Reporting Made Easy — in Minutes, not Hours!

The 31a “At-Risk” reporting process can be daunting. Districts frequently use handwritten forms, spreadsheets or Google sheets to collect the information and involve several personnel across the district — principals, secretaries, counselors, social workers, and teachers — to manually identify students who meet at least one of the 13 eligibility criteria and/or which programs and services these students are receiving. And this process must be done at least three times per year! This requires several hours of time from individuals, let alone cumulatively across the district it can require hundreds of hours.

Watch the replay of our recent Webinar to learn how the Munetix 31a Toolkit automates the eligibility, programs, and services reporting processes so entire process can be done in minutes — not hours!


Education, K-12, Webinars

Watch Webinar Replay: Individual Reading Improvement Plans (IRIPs)

The Academic Module: IRIPs Made Easy!

According to the Nation’s Report Card, “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.”

Watch the replay of our webinar to learn how the Academic Module can help in monitoring and reporting Individual Reading Improvement Plans (IRIPs):

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

The Importance of Communities Speaking a Common Data Language

How to Get Your Community Cooperating, Communicating and Collaborating for Everyone’s Benefit

Remember those famous paintings by Georges Seurat? Seurat used a technique known as pointillism. He and others would paint beautiful landscapes by using a multitude of small dots, carefully placed in harmony to create beautiful imagery. The technique relies on the ability of the eye and mind of the viewer to blend the color spots into a fuller range of tones.

What’s interesting about the technique is that, if you look at the paintings too closely, all you see is the dots — mere pixels that don’t amount to much at first glance. It’s not until you step back and look at the literal big picture that you truly understand what you’re looking at.

I use this analogy all the time to illustrate the powers — and the limitations — of data analysis. By examining data at a very granular level of detail, you see something different than when you step back and look at the bigger picture, taking all of the “dots” into account…and connecting them!

Any given data point is like a dot in a pointillist painting. It bears information on its own; but only in context of all of the other data points does it truly have meaning. A community’s “data dots” reveal secrets—micro data sets that each tell their own story. Yet together, they make a bigger picture; as distinct inputs, they stand alone.

The more granular you can get in terms of the insights and data about the neighborhoods and citizens you serve on a daily basis, the easier it is to connect dots, understand correlations and causation, and design programs and plans in the interest of both the individual and the community at large.

How to Paint the Perfect Picture of the Future for Your Community

For this analogy to truly have application in the real world, our communities and the public-sector entities that drive their growth and success need to speak a “Common Data Language.”

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce:

The need for a common data language is analogous to the use of a common language for people and economies to share the best of ideas, products, and services. A language used exclusively by a few isolates people from the rest of what the world has to offer.

So it is with the systems, technology and data used by local governments; schools and districts; fire and police departments; economic planning departments; and state, local and federal entities throughout the public sector. If every system is speaking a different language, they can’t possibly optimally communicate, collaborate or cooperate to the greatest benefit to the communities they serve. But that represents the reality for the vast majority of communities across the U.S. — everyone working on different platforms, speaking different languages, and missing opportunities to optimize planning and future outcomes.

The term frequently used in data and performance analytics to describe the ideal paradigm is “interoperability” — the ability of computer systems or software to exchange and make use of information collaboratively. Governing bodies in education and municipal government often set standards and guidelines for interoperability, but they can be difficult and onerous to adhere to, especially for those entities still relying on more primitive data processing systems, such as spreadsheets and legacy databases.

What would this look like in the real world and under the best-case scenario?

  • School district leadership would clearly understand what economic drivers exist between community demographics and student achievement.
  • Economic planners would easily draw causal conclusions about how equity in education and access to technology should shape future planning programs and investments in infrastructure.
  • Financial administrators in school districts could easily overlay public safety data with educational outcomes, to draw potential correlations between community crime and student performance.
  • Economic development professionals would clearly understand the demographics and detailed data about its available workforce, by “braiding” education data with workforce and U.S. Census data, and they could have unfettered access to data visualizations that plainly articulate trends, correlations, causes and effects.

In other words, all of the data points (Seurat’s dots), would work together to paint one clear picture of the past and present, so that leadership and employees in the public sector can access and apply all of the available data and information to their budgeting, planning, programming and overall decision-making processes for the future.

What Does “Braiding Data” Mean?

I mentioned the notion of “braiding” data above. The concept of data braiding is being increasingly used in the data analysis world, in place of bridging or integrating, as it suggests a greater connectivity and higher degree of codependence. 

For example, a school district may consider braiding transparency data with its fiscal data and with student achievement data. Or it may wish to braid academic performance data with fiscal data and economic data. Overall, a community—upon adopting and achieving interoperability and a Common Data Language—can collaboratively “braid” all of their various data feeds. 

Where are the connections? Which is the driver of outcomes, and what data demonstrates the effects of those drivers? The key to this working is to have the ability to combine data sources, then intuitively visualize how various data sets are interdependent and codependent.

I like to say, “Overlay to understand.” Connect dots. Draw more insightful conclusions. Make the invisible visible, and move away from the siloed data sets you are using today toward a more robust and more accurate predictor of community welfare. Making better informed decisions will naturally have a greater impact on your community, but you must be considering all of the available data that paint your community’s pictures, not just the “dots” that are easy to find.

Picture a braided cord, with each strand being a single data stream in your community, from education to economic and from demographic to overall community health. To get started:

  • Partner with the other public-sector entities that serve your community and collaborate to adopt a Common Data Language.
  • Establish and insist on standards of interoperability, so everyone can share, collaborate and communicate for the betterment of every aspect of the community.
  • Make your data intuitive, visual and transparent, so it can be accessed and understood by all stakeholders, from the professional on your team to the layperson resident with no data expertise.
  • Make the first move: Take it upon yourself to be your community’s Common Data Language ambassador and pioneer, as big ideas and bold programs need to be pushed forward, so nobody has to be pulled along grudgingly.

If you’d like to see how all of your community’s data threads can effectively intertwine, how easy it can be to adopt a Common Data Language, and why all of this is so critical to the future of your community, let’s talk.


Education, K-12, Webinars

Watch Webinar Replay: How to Prevent Learning Loss From Going Undetected

The Academic Module: Your Early-Detection Warning System

According to the Nation’s Report Card, “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.”

Watch the replay of our webinar to learn how the Academic Module can help in our battle against past and future learning loss.

Imagine a single tool that could not only alleviate burdens of time and workload, but also improve your ability to accelerate academic outcomes and effectively educate and monitor the progress of “the whole student”—academically, emotionally, socially, demographically, and socio-economically—all with a single, easy-to-use interface. This webinar will provide a brief overview of the Munetrix Academic Module, data required, and tips for a successful school year.

Education, K-12, News, Press Releases

Munetrix Named 2022 CODiE Award Finalist in Three Catgories

Solution for Schools Named Finalist in Categories for Administration, Data Management, and Education

We are proud to announce that the Munetrix School Edition was named a 2022 SIIA CODiE Award finalist in three categories: Best Administrative Solution, Best Data Management Solution, and Best Emerging Education Technology Solution for Administrators. CODiE finalists represent the best products, services and people in the education and business technology industries.

The Munetrix School Enterprise Edition is a comprehensive, all-in-one solution for school districts looking to create a district-wide culture of community through trust, teamwork and transparency. From financials, human resources and business processes to educator evaluations and student progress reporting, the Munetrix Enterprise Edition features easy-to-adopt and easy-to-use modules that facilitate simpler and more robust forecasting, planning and performance management. The product is a comprehensive suite of powerful, interdependent solutions that takes multi-level, complex data sets and makes them simple to understand, report and act upon, including: achievement and growth data, student reporting, needs assessment, educator evaluation, and progress monitoring, as well as financial budgeting, forecasting and modeling.

The SIIA CODiE Awards, the long-running, premier awards program for the software and information industries are produced by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), the principal trade association for the software, education, media and digital content industries. Munetrix was picked as a finalist across 47 education technology categories, including new categories in education and leadership.

“The 2022 CODiE Award finalists highlight the products and people who drove their industries forward through innovative products and leadership in these uncertain times,” said SIIA President Jeff Joseph. “These honorees continue the proud tradition of CODiE Award finalists of recognizing the most impactful products, services and leaders of their time, setting a foundation for the next generation of innovators. Congratulations to all who received this well-earned acknowledgment.”

Accolades and Gratitude

Judge feedback included statements such as, “The sheer volume of data that can be used in a district’s customized application of Munetrix is astounding!,” “The Munetrix platform, specifically the Financial Module is impressive…very easy to navigate and esthetically pleasing, and is very robust in the amount of features and functionality it can provide,” and, “Overall, the Munetrix School Enterprise Edition features some incredible opportunities for sharing and disseminating information among stakeholders at an educational institution.”

Munetrix CEO Buzz Brown said, “We’ve worked hard as a company and in collaboration with educators and administrators to make our school product as robust and intuitive as possible. This year, we made significant enhancements to the Financial Module, complementing the feature-rich Academic Module that we relaunched the year prior. This recognition of our industry peers by such a prestigious organization is most welcome, but hard-earned.”


The SIIA CODiE Awards are the industry’s only peer-recognized awards program. Finalists are determined by industry experts. CODiE Award winners will be announced during the virtual winner announcement celebrations June 8 and June 9, 2022.

Details about each finalist are listed at

About the SIIA CODiE™ Awards

The SIIA CODiE Awards is the only peer-reviewed program to showcase business and education technology’s finest products and services. Since 1986, thousands of products, services and solutions have been recognized for achieving excellence. For more information, visit

About Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA)

SIIA is the only professional organization connecting more than 450 data, financial information, education technology, specialized content and publishing companies. Our diverse members provide the critical data, content, and information that drives the global economy, informs financial networks, connects learners and educators, and drives innovation. Learn more at

Education, K-12, News

Cities & Schools Reach Crisis Point Due to States’ Low Economic Reserves

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (Many States Are Unprepared for Next Economic Downturn) caught my attention because it highlighted a key factor adding to the fiscal stress of municipalities and schools.  The article suggested that most states are unprepared for an inevitable economic downturn as they lack the necessary fiscal reserves or rainy-day funds to cushion the next financial blow, and, it’s already having a negative trickle-down effect.

Forced to do more with less since the last recession, cities and schools are continually struggling with reduced revenue sharing from their states while scrambling to meet the demands of unfunded mandates, retiree obligations, an aging infrastructure and even increased student testing. Add this to the anticipated silver tsunami caused by public sector retirements in the next decade, we see a myriad of local governments that are already stretched too thin and have reached a crisis point.

One of the most alarming things noted in the WSJ article was that some states appear to have little sense of urgency and limited tools to address these budgetary shortfalls. Forget crisis point—this dilemma will have far-reaching and long-term consequences for the populations served by those who gloss over the unavoidable hard truth and do nothing about it now.

Fiscal Health, Municipal, News, Opinion

At least for now, Michigan closes the chapter on Emergency Financial Managers

By: Bob Kittle and Katrina Powell

The State of Michigan Department of the Treasury sent out a press release on June 27, 2018 announcing that for the first time in 18 years, neither a school district or municipality in Michigan has an emergency manager. You can read the press release in its entirety here, but following is an excerpt.

“LANSING, Mich. – State Treasurer Nick Khouri today announced that no Michigan municipality or school district is under state financial oversight through an emergency manager for the first time in nearly 18 years. The…announcement comes after releasing Highland Park School District from receivership under the Local Financial Stability and Choice Act. Since 2000, there has been an emergency manager providing financial oversight somewhere in Michigan.”

For many years the Emergency Financial Manager (later changed to Emergency Manager or EM) concept was regularly maligned by some constituents, citing it as an overreach of state government at the loss of local control and racially motivated. The term carpetbagger was bandied about as well. One respected national government trade publication headlined a 2012 article, Emergency Financial Managers: Michigan’s Unwelcome Savior. As local government financial advisors ourselves, (Katrina was the State-appointed City Manager for Hamtramck from 2014 to 2017) we, but especially Katrina, have been on the receiving end of some hurtful and untrue verbal attacks about roles and motives.

Municipal, News, Opinion

Can Open Checkbooks Promote Transparency In Local Governments and Prevent Theft?

The recent news in the Oakland Press about the City of Oak Park’s former clerk siphoning $433,000 out of the city’s coffers over a 2-year period made me think … would a higher level of transparency by the city have been able to thwart such an incident?

Within the Munetrix toolbox is a Dynamic Check Register that takes the transparency discussion to the next level.  Local governments have the ability to export their vendor accounts payable files directly from their accounting software into a publicly accessible, searchable database.  Some refer to this as “Open Checkbook” but it by itself is only a fraction what it takes to truly be transparent.