Connections During Crisis: COVID-19 Decision Support Resources

Connect with the people, ideas, and technologies you need to make critical decisions for your community. Read below to learn how your peers are responding to these new challenges, and the solutions that are working for them.

A statement on COVID-19 from Mike English, President/CEO

READ FULL STATEMENT

May 22, 2020
Closing the Digital Divide in a Remote Learning Environment

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Dr. Adam Cibulka

Senior Manager – 5Lab

How are school districts analyzing student data to close the digital divide in remote learning? As districts and states begin to plan for the possibility of extending eLearning options for students in the fall of the 2020-21 school year, district leaders need critical information to ensure all students have access to the necessary learning materials.

Administrators across the country are using 5Lab to analyze student data to track coursework and next-grade-level readiness—all on a single platform—to ensure students stay "on-track" and the district closes the equity gap.

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May 18, 2020
National Webinar
Return to School – Scenario Planning in an Unknown Zone

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Julie Fitzgerald

Managing Director


As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, districts are wrestling with the uncertainty of how to plan in a fluid environment with significant unknowns. Join us, along with CTOs, Superintendents, and other administrative leaders from districts across the country, for a panel discussion regarding lessons from the last 60 days, and specific ways districts are preparing for the next 120 days, including exploring “what if” scenarios for back-to-school and the ways in which they’re analyzing their data with a greater degree of rigor than ever before.

The webinar will be held Friday, May 22, at 11 a.m. CDT.

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May 11, 2020
Modeling the Financial Impact of COVID-19

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Allen Albus
Senior Manager - 5Cast

If it’s not already happened, in the near future you’ll likely be asked about how the COVID-19 pandemic will financially impact your district. While things like FY20 expenditure savings and FY21 interest earning reductions can be projected now, the fact is that the scope and/or duration of many financial impacts are still unknown. Nonetheless, there is great value in positioning your district to assess the impact of new information as it becomes available.

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May 8, 2020
Use History As Context For Decision-Making

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Wes Karsten
Manager - 5Sight

I've been encouraged by the way in which groups of school administrators, who are typically very collaborative, have banded together during this pandemic - meeting frequently and exchanging concerns, experiences, and best practices.

As business officials struggle with appropriately forecasting the financial impacts of this virus, two valuable approaches have emerged - reviewing the financial impact of the last recession and sharing potential scenario assumptions. Many business officials were not in their current positions during the Great Recession and, therefore, don't have the experience of navigating an economic recession. Analyzing historical trends in key areas such as CPI, EAV, tax collection, interest income, fees, and state/federal revenue in our 5Sight analytics tool has provided a helpful precedent for scenario-modeling.

Additionally, sharing assumptions for these areas and others with peers can provide confidence in your projections, as well as guard against extremes. "Peer-vetting" your scenarios provides both you and your Board with confidence in your financial projections.

To learn more about how districts are using 5Sight for historical analysis and benchmarking, please request a demo. For 5Sight clients, please contact your advisor.

 

 


May 6, 2020
Using Geospatial Data to Celebrate Students and Teachers

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Whitney West
Analytics Advisor

Clients across the nation have inquired about using geospatial data and software to help with projects that spread happiness to their community! Several districts have shared with us that they have been using student and staff data in 5Maps to generate maps that allow them to not only provide critical services like meals or internet access – but also to deliver recognition.

One district used 5Maps to create areas in which their transportation team and bus drivers could drop off yard signs for graduating seniors. Another district utilized 5Maps to identify how to most efficiently and safely deliver gifts for “teacher appreciation” week. Congratulations and thank you to everyone who continue to think outside the box to spread joy through the community!

If you are a current 5Maps subscriber, please reach out so that we can assist. If you are new to 5Maps, please connect with us to learn more.

 


April 30, 2020
The New Normal – Planning for Technology Needs

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Debbie Karcher

K12 Education Technology Advisor, Executive Management

COVID-19 has rapidly shifted both learning and the workforce into a remote, digital environment. As students, teachers, and parents settle into the “new normal,” this is the ideal time for Information Technology (IT) teams to begin planning for what needs to happen between now and the end of this school year, for summer school, and for the opening of school activities. System activities that you’ve typically scheduled a year in advance are going to be influenced—and potentially changed significantly—by COVID-19. I’ve outlined some critical questions that you and your team should be considering, to ensure you’re prepared for potential school reopening scenarios.

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April 29, 2020
Examining the Known Unknowns in Your Finances

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Ernie Strawser

Senior Vice President

We are often asked how a financial forecast can be done with so much uncertainty. There are “known unknowns” in any financial projection, and in a crisis like this 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, these grow exponentially. However, there are underlying fundamentals that need to be the foundation of our financials, and in a crisis, a fundamental financial indicator is cash.

While the debate lingers about the known unknowns of state funding, timing of property tax collections, or local income tax revenue, the district’s cash balance trend is providing insight. Cash flow fundamentals, coupled with a shorter forecasting period, will contain the exponential impact of the “known unknowns”. This interim cash trend on a shortened time period will help school leaders make the best decisions without multiplying the unknown factors. Forecast5 presented a webinar to demonstrate how using cash flow forecasting and the insight it can provide as a decision-making tool.

Note: this webinar was presented in Ohio, but most of the concepts are relevant across the US.

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April 24, 2020
Academic Performance – End of Year Considerations

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Dr. Adam Cibulka

Senior Manager – 5Lab

Due to the recent national and state guidance surrounding COVID-19 social-distancing measures, most schools face the possibility of needing to extend eLearning through the end of the school year.

While each district, school, and/or grade level may have different distance learning policies and procedures, all districts will have to establish mechanisms to evaluate progress based on next grade and/or graduation protocols. Our full blog post outlines questions to consider within the areas of academic progress, assessment, and intervention.


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April 21, 2020
National Webinar
Supporting the Whole Child in a Virtual Learning Environment

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Dr. Adam Cibulka

Senior Manager – 5Lab

The COVID-19 crisis has added an entirely new and complex dimension to supporting the Social-Emotional Learning needs of students. Now more than ever, district leaders need help - in the form of data - to not only be able to identify children's evolving SEL needs, but to also ensure that students are receiving appropriate educational services to support learning in this new reality.

On April 24, Dr. Brian Harris, Superintendent, and John Bruesch, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching & Learning, from Barrington CUSD 220 in Illlinois along with district panelists from across the country presented a webinar to discuss ways in which districts are successfully implementing data-driven strategies to connect with students in a virtual learning environment and address their social-emotional needs.

WATCH NOW

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April 17, 2020
Monitoring Cash Flow During Times of Tax Payment Uncertainty

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Mike English
CEO/President


When the federal government moved the personal tax filing due date from April 15 to July, a series of cascading discussions followed from state and local governments, prompting an important question…”Would other tax collecting bodies follow suit and delay their collection of income and property tax?” Given the COVID-19 situation, this short-term forbearance is both appropriate and justified. However, at the local level, what if that delay of tax receipts disrupts the normal cash flow cycle to a level where critical services, or even debt payments, are at risk? Read on to learn more about the critical considerations related to these questions and access a video resource regarding potential approaches to addressing them.

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April 15, 2020
Internet and eLearning Access Visualized on a Map

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Jim Spoden
GIS Technician

In their effort to transition to eLearning, one of our clients needed to determine which of their students had Internet access in their homes, as well as devices (laptops, tablets, etc.) which could be used for instruction. They conducted a survey to gather this data, but wanted to use it to better understand where these students resided. We helped them upload their data into GuideK12 so that they can now visualize and analyze this information on the map.

They're using these visualizations to get a better idea of the areas in need of devices and/or hotspots, as well as the number of students in each of these areas, so that they can more effectively identify schools close to those areas which can be used as device hand-out stations. This data will also provide insight into whether the lack of Internet access is primarily a location issue in which Internet simply isn't available, or more of an economic issue, which can be used to inform future decision-making.

For more information about how to implement this for your district, please reach out to your GuideK-12 contact or 5Maps Advisor.

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April 7, 2020
Resources to Support You and Your Organization

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Mike English
CEO/President

Each day, the great leaders in our education and municipal sectors demonstrate their dedication to helping our students and communities through this crisis. All of us at Forecast5 are committed to delivering resources, technology, and knowledge to support you. This new resource page is part of this commitment.

On it, you’ll find timely perspectives from our team on ways to address issues created by the crisis, tools that you can use to address them, and insights on how other Forecast5 clients are responding to similar challenges.

We’ll continue to add to this collection on a regular basis. In the meantime, we wish you all good health and safety.

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April 7, 2020
Student Services and Program Delivery with 5Maps

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Whitney West
Analytics Advisor

My clients have recently asked how 5Maps software can support their organizations with the delivery of critical programs and services to students and communities during this period of social distancing. In response, I recorded a video to guide them through it. Here’s a brief summary for you.

5Maps is being used to address the challenge of providing meal services, tracking which students have Internet access, identifying specific demographic groups on the map, and delivering other programs and services. Your teams can use 5Maps can help your teams use mapping to visualize and produce detailed lists of those who are in need, produce detailed lists, and ultimately provide decision support in determining to help you the best methods to distribute those services.

If you are a current 5Maps subscriber, please reach out so that we can assist. If you are new to 5Maps, please connect with us to learn more.

 


April 7, 2020
Examining the Budget Impacts of COVID-19

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Travis Zander

Senior Analytics Advisor

The COVID-19 crisis seems to shift priorities and change assumptions for school business leaders on a daily basis. We have developed a checklist, by state, of potential budget items to consider in order to eliminate possible reimbursement funding falling through the cracks. We've also developed a variance analysis report in 5Cast Plus to enable districts to view changes against their trends and against their budget.

Our clients have also requested a dashboard we’ve developed to help explain a district’s financial situation that’s automatically populated, and also able to be customized with a narrative from administrators to tell the District’s story. These tools are helping clients model out the impact of the crisis and communicate the situation to their stakeholders. A review of these tools and techniques are included in our informational webinars customized by state. Below is an example of our budget checklist for the state of Texas. For more information on the additional state and local government checklists that are available, please contact us to learn more.

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April 7, 2020
Tracking and Analyzing Student eLearning Engagement

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Dr. Adam Cibulka

Senior Manager – 5Lab

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, districts across the country are exploring ways to engage their students through eLearning. During our conversations with clients, all have indicated that they are currently navigating how to best ensure that all students receive the necessary learning experiences, both from a delivery and a content perspective.

To support this critical effort, we recently delivered a 5Lab dashboard to a client who needed to be able to visualize the last time each student logged in to their learning management system (LMS), as well as when each student was last actively accessing the material in the LMS. This 5Lab dashboard provides filtering capabilities so that specific student groups, such as students with special needs, English Learners, or low-income students, could be identified, enabling the district to provide additional resources to those students. Additionally, through our eLearning guided analysis page, the district leadership team was able to immediately generate a list of student names who had not accessed the eLearning materials.

If your district is interested in tracking eLearning experiences, please reach out to your 5Lab Advisor to learn more about how 5Lab can support your district’s eLearning efforts.

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April 3, 2020
Webinar Recording 
COVID-19: Developing a Proactive Plan Using Historic Data

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Mike Sobul
Senior Analytics Advisor

While the ultimate economic impact of COVID-19 has yet to be determined, there are steps school districts can take today to adjust their financial plans in response. Although there are clear differences in the underlying factors, there are numerous insights that can be gained from the Great Recession of 2007 and applied to budgetary forecasting.

This Forecast5 webinar recording will take you through an overview of our current economic conditions and their potential impact on revenue, outline what can be learned from our experiences in 2007, and end with a panel discussion with the Executive Directors from BASA and OASBO focused on expenditures, collective bargaining, ballots/levies, and financial strategies.

Although the datasets used during this webinar are specific to Ohio, the takeaways are applicable to districts located across the country.

 

 

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