Category: Analysis

Personnel Costs for Negotiations

Have you ever been in this situation? The lead negotiator for the district says that they need those calculations for the cost of a 1% raise and the cost of one day of salary. Negotiations are starting in 10 minutes. You get that frozen look on your face because this is the first time you

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When Your Chart of Accounts Gets Out of Hand

Is your school district’s chart of accounts not working for you? Here are some questions to ask when designing a new one.

Excel Mastery is What Exactly?

I used to think that the more Excel formulas you knew and the more adept you were at macros, the more you could claim Excel mastery. I have changed my mind.  Those who create complex spreadsheets that are beyond the skill and understanding of their users are pushing the program beyond it’s useful limits. Spreadsheets

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The Giant Account Coding Monster

“Here’s your process. It satisfies all my needs.” Even when there is lots of customer input, the more powerful party will resolve disagreements in its own favor. Even though California’s Standardized Account Code Structure (SACS) is far superior the previous system and was a done deal fifteen years ago, whenever I take an assignment in

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Budget Advisory Committees are Hard

When the Budget Advisory Committee was approaching my boss and I would look at each other and groan in unison “Ugh BAC!”  Why? It was not that we didn’t want to talk budget with the community.  Hey, we’ll talk your ear off with all sorts of budget geekiness if you let us.  It is because a BAC

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Local Control Funding Formula: Nothing and Something

The California Department of Education has “updated” its reporting software by removing the previous revenue schedule and replacing it with, um, nothing. I am going out on a limb.  I have created my own multi-year calculation.  Please email me at if you want a copy. We are four plus months into the fiscal year,

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Give Up Already!

I was still in bed when I heard such frightful swearing from the kitchen.  Upon investigation I discovered that Spouse had impaled his index finger on a nail and was trying to open up a “bandaid”.  Not a brand name Band-Aid, mind you, but a cheap generic version thereof.  He handed it to me.  Here

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FiscalNote: Real Time Government Analytics

Following this company with great interest: “If you look at finance today, we can get in-depth stock and trade updates and analysis every quarter of a second, and it doesn’t make sense to not have the same type of real-time information about what’s happening in the government,”  Tim Hwang

We Don’t Need No %@# Standards?*

Imagine comparing two school districts’ test scores, where each district uses different tests.  That would be meaningless, right? Yet, this situation exists on the business side of things. Legislation will require a calculation, but the implementation is unclear.  Subsequent guidelines and regulations (if any) sometimes just cite the statute verbatim. For example, prior to the new funding formula, conversion

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Eleven Important Rules for Reporting

When you are asked to report results internally or externally, there are several rules of thumb that, if followed, will usually make life a lot easier for you.  Otherwise, you may overshare, share wrong data, or actually not answer the real question being asked.  This is especially important when dealing with reporters and public information requests.

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