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Data Analytics and the 3 R's When Planning Your School Budget

Each spring, school superintendents and business officials begin the ritual of assessing their district's financial health in preparation for planning the next year's budget. As an important activity, an effective budgeting process is driven and informed by data as you use your school budgeting software. You know the that the education of future generations is on the line and the stakes are high when it comes to budget allocation and management.

At Eidex, we know how important managing your budget is and understand the correlation between data-driven budgetary decisions and student success. We developed Eidex FOCUS to help educators and administrators like you create budgets that maximize student achievement and strengthen the fiscal health for your school district. As you reflect, plan, prepare, and reflect as part of the budgeting process, you also think about the 3 R’s – Reality? Realistic? Responsible? Let’s explore more.

Reflect on Reality

Budget assessment requires careful analysis of how various resources were allocated equitably across schools, according to student, staff, and school needs. In your evaluation, you examine the resource allocation data surrounding your strategic plan and/or goals established by the board of education. As a metric, you use the ROI to compare your instructional expenditures based upon your selected peer group. You also review your numbers on fund balance, operating ratios, and student enrollment to determine your financial health based upon your pre-determined goals.

Plan Realistically

Budget planning involves revisiting budget projection assumptions, goals, and objectives. At this phase of the process, data about where the district is currently and where it wants to be next year is part of the data-informed decision making process.

As an example:

  • You examined historical performance on the state assessment compared to peers with similar student count and FRL. The leadership team realized that their students were performing slightly worse than the peer average. The improvement goal is to outperform the current peer average in the next year. The team begins to plan for evidence-based programs that will help the district achieve this goal and inform budget allocations.

As an example:

  • You examined the ROI of instructional expenditures in the last year. (Note: ROI is defined as the average instructional expenditures per student over average state assessment proficiency). In the graph, the further a district falls in the bottom right corner, the higher expenditures and lower achievement. After analyzing the data, the leadership team set a goal of moving the district closer to the top left-hand corner using a combination of evidence-based academic improvement programs and various cost control strategies.

Prepare Responsibly

Budget preparation is combining the reflection with the plan to decide how resources will be allocated equitably based upon student, staff, and school needs. Historical trends of expenditures such as revenues, staffing, as well as the district’s financial health (fund balance, debt, revenue-to-expenditures ratio, etc.) can help inform decisions using data analytics. The district can forecast any constraints or surpluses of resources.

If you carefully prepare and track your budget allocations, you can make the most out of every dollar, getting one step closer to achieving that perfect budget. Eidex FOCUS generates visually compelling graphs that make this kind of granular perspective easy to see so budget problems don’t sneak up on you.

A client interview of ours highlights how Eidex data helped Greenville schools maximize their limited resources:

“One of the ways that data from Eidex has allowed us to address this challenge is through Return-on-Investment metrics,” comments Michelle. “I’ve been able to show our Board of Education and any other interested groups how much we spent on instruction as compared to our comp (peer) districts, and then go in and show the return on investment as defined by how our academic achievement has been compared to those same districts.”

Tracking financial metrics is burdensome, but it’s crucial to a successful school year. Why not let Eidex do the heavy lifting for you? With Eidex FOCUS, it’s easy to show how decisions are achievement-oriented, and you can easily communicate your decisions with built-in graphs to defend your data-driven decisions. The visually intuitive charts help your stakeholders understand how allocating funds allows your students to reach their maximum potential.

If you’d like to see what insights Eidex FOCUS can show you about your school or district, and how your spending compares to your peers, we’d love to give you a free demo. We’ll include a custom report to show you what your cost-saving areas are compared to districts of similar size.

For more information, you can call us at 844-512-3282 or fill out our contact form and we’ll be happy to tell you about Eidex FOCUS, PRISM, and how you can transform your data into valuable, actionable insights!

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