As school districts begin to act on their ESSER 3 plans and invest funding, they are striving to balance short term needs with the need to sustain new initiatives over the long term. Senior Analytics Advisors Chris Ryan Sr. and Travis Zander with Frontline Analytics, powered by Forecast 5, provided some expert advice in a December 2021 research brief.

First, they suggest using comparative analytics, which provide districts with historical comparative district data as well as data from other, comparable districts. They advise that ‚ÄúComparative analytics can help districts benchmark an organization‚Äôs performance on multiple metrics against those of their peers, groups of like districts or other K-12 organizations within their state to gain multiple perspectives as they consider their own strategies. The next step is to use that information to help inform the decisions of the district in concrete financial plans.‚ÄĚ

New spending requirements are also important to keep in mind, including a requirement for increased transparency about how funds are spent and decisions are made. Frontline Comparative Analytics, formerly 5Sight, provides tools to generate visuals that will enhance the communication of complex data in school board or community presentations. Tracking the disbursement of funds and analyzing the long-term impact, as well as planning for sustainability or sunset of specific programs, are all made much easier and more precise with tools available in Financial Planning Analytics, formerly 5Cast, and Budget Management Analytics, formerly 5Cast Plus. Ryan and Zander note that ‚ÄúData and analytics enable school leaders to communicate with confidence with their stakeholders, ensuring that funds are being spent appropriately to create impact and that proactive plans are in place for when the surplus funding expires.‚ÄĚ Read more expert advice here.