Decision Mechanics, in partnership with Prism Decision Systems, recently developed “Budget Playground”—a school district budget planning iPad app. The app was created as part of a program funded by Cornell University’s New York State Center for Rural Schools.
Budget Playground allows school district planning staff to forecast budgets up to ten years into the future and interactively modify different scenarios to create robust budgets that are acceptable to the school district’s stakeholders.
The iPad app is fed by a REST web service that exposes historical trend data collected and managed by the Center for Rural Schools.
The Center for Rural Schools currently has a web portal that presents the historical data in a form that can be consumed by school administrators. One of the center’s objectives is to decouple the data service from the tools that present that data. This would leverage the existing investment in data by allowing the development of an array of highly focused “client” apps that help school district administrators overcome their most urgent challenges.
Budget Playground represents a trial of this concept.
“The passage of a property tax cap in New York State creates an urgent need for school districts to have new tools to manage the budgeting process,” said Dr John Sipple, Director for the New York State Center for Rural Schools. “The Center for Rural Schools can now offer an intuitive, easy-to-use budget forecasting tool to all school districts in New York State. Budget Playground solves a pressing problem, without being burdened by unnecessary features or complexity.”
For more information contact Dr John Sipple, New York Center for Rural Schools (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Sean Brady, Prism Decision Systems (Sean.Brady@prismdecision.com).
Potential future developments of budget playground include:
- collaborative planning features to allow groups to work directly on scenarios together
- benchmarking capabilities to allow school districts to compare their budgets to those of similar schools
- expansion of the data service to include, for example, national price indices
- user customization of the reported metrics