District Administration March 2018 - 29

SPONSORED CONTENT

Michael English
CEO/President
Forecast5 Analytics

Tools for K12 educational leaders to leverage
data to develop future-focused strategies
Forecast5™ Analytics helps improve academic return on investment
in today's challenging budget environment
How can district administrators make more efficient,
effective and strategic decisions?
There is data available to support many of the decisions that
school administrators make every day. Often though, it takes
time to manually gather and model that data. If a project
uses 80 percent of its timeline to gather and model data,
that leaves just 20 percent of the time to actually analyze
it. Forecast5™ Analytics tries to flip that paradigm to make
data gathering and modeling the minority of the project
time, giving school administrators more time to analyze the
information. This provides a better chance of developing
a superior solution to a given problem. Our products have
the capability to pull information together faster, as well as
to create clear and effective presentations that are better
understood by stakeholders.
What are school districts missing when it comes to
leveraging data to find new resources, increase operational
efficiency and strengthen decision-making processes?
Many school districts buy or maintain transactional systems.
Those systems are good at storing information, but not good
at analyzing it. We are not proposing that districts buy new
systems. We can mount our products to the existing student
information systems or financial accounting software that
school districts already have, to give them the benefit of
analytical systems but without a major investment in a new
platform. Another common problem is relying too heavily
on spreadsheets. We do use Excel in our tools, or we allow
a client to attach to Excel, but Excel has some fundamental
limitations when it comes to modeling complex scenarios.
We have a database solution with an Excel-like interface for
a stronger, faster and more flexible tool.
What is the advantage for school districts of drafting
multiyear projections and simulating immediate "what
if" scenarios?
Our team has attended hundreds of school board meetings
and listened to questions asked during budget presentations,

and I always felt there would be a lot of value in modeling
out some of the questions and answers in advance. We
wanted to build out systems that could tackle a multivariant
scenario analysis and put that into a format that a CFO or
school administrator could use to provide an immediate
answer to questions across various scenarios and variables.
The advantage of drafting a multiyear projection is that it
will help decision-makers understand that something that is
affordable this year might not be as cost-effective five years
from now. We offer technology that allows school districts
to generate a base-budget scenario, and then create
multiple scenarios off that base, to immediately compare the
differences between all scenarios in a visual report.
How important is it that school districts compare
performance and spending against their peers?
It is so critical. Ten or 15 years ago, we had a growing
economy and there were far fewer limitations placed on
school budgets. What performance benchmarking does for
school districts is that it allows them to look at their budgets
and understand how other school districts are managing
their budgets. That might help either confirm a strategy or
see where there might be cost-saving opportunities.
For example: If your district is spending $1,000 per student
for transportation, but similar-size districts with similar
geography are spending only $600 per student, performance
benchmarking and technology can identify an opportunity to
re-evaluate your transportation strategy and save money.
Benchmarking is also very valuable in evaluating
expenditures and benefits, such as health insurance or
collective bargaining and teacher salary schedules. We've
developed new statistical models, which give administrators
insight into the concept of an academic return on investment.

For more information, visit www.forecast5analytics.com
View, comment, share this story online at DAmag.me/forecast5


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration March 2018

District Administration March 2018 - Cover1
District Administration March 2018 - Cover2
District Administration March 2018 - 1
District Administration March 2018 - 2
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District Administration March 2018 - Cover3
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