Category: Data

Schrödinger’s Excel

Or, how to be deadly and awesome at the same time Is Excel good or bad?  It is both.  Are you good at Excel or bad at it?  Probably both. Excel is extraordinary.  In the wrong hands it also can be a disaster,  Excel is just a tool, like a chisel.  It is inspiring in the hands of a skilled carpenter and murderous in

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Zombie PowerPoint

or, Why PowerPoint Cannot Die The YouTube video Death by PowerPoint is really, well, to the point.  Yet, despite obvious abuses, PowerPoint is here to stay. Powerpoint is the perfect vehicle for bulleted and numbered lists. We are addicted to lists.  What do you think most people will click on: Study shows correlation between polyphenols and health, or

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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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When to Say No

I recently overheard two employees chatting with their supervisor. “We want to learn Excel” they said. “Can you teach us?”  They do not need to know Excel for the work they do currently.  Much of the time they are doing data entry.  However the next position up the pay scale uses Excel extensively.  The supervisor

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Year End Closing Powerpoint

I have posted a Powerpoint presentation on the Year End Close.  Yes it is one of those presentations with lots of text and no interesting pictures.  However, not all presentations are of the Steve Jobs variety. This presentation is designed for school business professionals new to the year end close process, and it is designed

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