It’s a perfect score for WWPS

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published February 23, 2018

 Warren Woods Public Schools has achieved a status of “fiscal wellness” from Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for states, local governments and public school districts.

Warren Woods Public Schools has achieved a status of “fiscal wellness” from Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for states, local governments and public school districts.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

WARREN — Warren Woods Public Schools has achieved “fiscal wellness” amid difficult financial times.

That is the consensus of Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for states, local governments and public school districts. Munetrix is a Michigan-based company located in Auburn Hills.

On Feb. 7, Munetrix announced that Warren Woods was one of 36 Michigan public school districts to receive a perfect Munetrix fiscal indicator score of zero for three consecutive years, 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17.

The scores are based on the most current audited school district data provided by the Michigan Department of Education. The Munetrix score range is zero to 10, with zero being a perfect score.

When comprising a rating, Munetrix considers chronic or high-magnitude problems, including fragile fund balances or large enrollment swings. The Munetrix score serves as an early warning tool and allows school leaders the opportunity to model financial plans for the future.

“Based on their Munetrix scores, these districts are to be commended for their fiscal stewardship,” Munetrix President and CEO Bob Kittle said in a prepared statement. “At a time when all eyes are on the public sector to do more with less, school districts, with their precious cargo being children, are under even more optical scrutiny. The parents in these districts should take comfort knowing the boards and administrators hold fiscal sustainability close to their heart, which is especially important as Michigan’s overall student population continues to decline.”

“We appreciate them giving us this recognition,” WWPS Superintendent Stacey Denewith-Fici said. “For us to receive this, it makes us very proud. With the ability to be fiscally responsible and provide academic programs speaks to the reputation of the district.”

For the 2017-18 school year, WWPS currently has a budget of $32.9 million, with expenditures at $34 million. The district’s revenue includes local, state and federal dollars, and other sources. The district’s expenditures include employee salaries and benefits; central, athletic and community services; pupil transportation; and operations and maintenance costs.

With a shortfall of approximately $1.1 million, Denewith said, school officials are using money from the district’s fund balance to make up the difference. Fund equity works like a savings account and is used in an emergency. School budgets are amended throughout the year, and other savings could factor into the shortfall.

When rating the districts, Munetrix representatives look at revenue, expenses, fund balance, enrollment and foundation allowance over a three-year period.

“So, in effect, five years of data is needed to generate a three-year trend,” Kittle said in an email. “So 25 data points are analyzed in this study, which looks for trends and chronic potential finance and operations issues that could impact a school’s ability to fund its operations the fiscal year it is in or in the future if they model scenarios into Munetrix.”

Kittle added that schools don’t receive enough praise and are criticized when something goes wrong.  

“We feel positive reinforcement is needed for those who are doing well, and (it) also has the potential to encourage others to strive to achieve higher levels of performance,” he said. “From a functional standpoint, it is crucial that school districts not only know what their fiscal health is today, for tomorrow and for the year; it is also crucial to understand for the years ahead.”