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3 Ways A Small Missouri School District Enhances Financial Transparency with Data Analytics

Posted on Aug 31, 2020 8:15:07 AM

Navigating the financial landscape as a superintendent of a small school district has never been easy. Navigating the current financial landscape as a school administrator for a small school district has become particularly challenging, since resources are limited and responsibilities are often shared among several staff members.

When Dr. Laura Nelson was appointed Superintendent of School for the Osage School District in October of 2019, she was determined to uphold the district's excellence in financial reporting and transparency. After hearing about Forecast5 Analytics from several peer districts, Nelson explored Forecast5's suite of decision-support solutions and made the decision to subscribe to both 5Cast and 5Cast Plus.

Nelson uses these budgeting and forecasting tools to ensure financial accountability to the community and help manage her team's time and resources. Stated Nelson, "I appreciate being able to go into my monthly BOE meeting with the Aggregate Plus report. I love how easy it is to gather the information and feel confident in its accuracy. For a small district without a staff of CPAs, having a tool that automatically runs financial reports and allows me to produce various scenarios is key to ensuring financial responsibility and success."

When asked what the biggest benefits are for her district in using 5Cast, Nelson immediately identified the following:

1. It empowered her to easily obtain the data she needed, so she can spend her time analyzing and determining a recommended course of action.

2. It allowed her to quickly toggle between financial scenarios without a lot of manual work.

3. It helped her to amplify the message and method of communications to schools and the community.

Spending More Time Analyzing

Dr. Nelson no longer needed to share and maintain numerous Excel files to build her financial reports. She now had easy access to the district's finances thanks to Forecast5, which allowed her to spend more time analyzing the data and making recommendations, and less time crunching and compiling numbers.

The ability to quickly analyze detailed data enables superintendents to work with their staffs to provide a deeper understanding of how the budget supports the mission, vision, and strategic goals of the district. Nelson was able to use that time to ensure that the budget was being allocated to meet those goals.

Toggling Between Scenarios

The 2019-20 school year highlighted the need to be able to respond quickly to changing financial situations. Osage used Forecast5's Budget Planning Report and Scenario Comparison Report to quickly and accurately develop various scenarios and compare the effects of potential changes, both currently and into the future years.

Amplifying Communications

Given the impact of COVID-19, staying on top of current budget numbers and the ability to forecast out various scenarios as situations evolve has been imperative. Says Nelson, "It's been challenging to keep track of how all of this has impacted things—even in the local economy. We're going to be making budget adjustments every couple of months. That is how we are going to be responsible and transparent as we navigate the financial landscape."

While reviewing the budget for the upcoming school year, Nelson relayed that the Forecast5 platform was not even considered for removal from the budget. The tools have contributed to helping maintain Osage School District's level of excellence in financial reporting and transparency, even during this challenging time. For Nelson and school administrators alike, having tools that enable them to easily access their district's data and make strategic decisions using it has been invaluable.


About School of the Osage:

Organization Type: K-12 school district
Enrollment: 1,900
Annual Operating Budget: $20 million
Location: Lake Ozark, Missouri
Fun Fact: They drew their name from the nearby Osage River and the Native Americans who once lived in the area.

Want to learn more? Download the eBook: Stay Ahead of the Game: Tips for Managing this Year's Budget While Planning for Next Year


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