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Munetrix again named to GovTech100 index for innovation and effectiveness in government technology

Auburn Hills, Mich. – February 5, 2019– Among a compendium of 100 companies focused on making a difference in state and local governments, Munetrix is pleased to announce its inclusion on the 2019 GovTech100, an annual index by Government Technology magazine that highlights the top 100 companies in the country that serve government in unique, innovative and effective ways. Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for states, local governments and public school districts, has been included on the GovTech100 since its introduction in 2016 and is one of only two Michiganbased companies that made the 2019 list. 

Munetrix President Bob Kittle said it’s gratifying to be recognized among the best in the country for government tech. 

“Being named to the GovTech100 for the fourth consecutive year reinforces our commitment to helping municipalities and schools increase productivity and efficiency while planning for the future,” Kittle said. “We have worked hard to earn our reputation of being a thought leader who guides government customers in budgeting, transparency, complying with legislated mandates, and data management—enabling them to monitor their municipal wellness through the use of our technology. Our team couldn’t be more proud.” 

A complete list of GovTech100 2019 honorees can be viewed here. The list is also featured in the January/February 2019 issue of Government Technology magazine. 

The 2019 GovTech100 recognition comes on the heels of Munetrix winning the “Education Advocate” award in December 2018 from the Auburn Hills, Michigan Chamber of Commerce for its efforts to help plan for the next generation of public sector leaders. 

With estimates that only two percent of graduates are bound for a career in the public sector, while more than a third of public sector employees are expected to retire in the next seven years, Munetrix has been a leading advocate of succession planning and the development of professional administrators to head local units of government in the future. Because both cities and schools benefit by using its software platform, Munetrix products effectively respond to the ‘silver tsunami’ of anticipated retirements using data science and best-in-class analytics. 

“Munetrix has embedded a data management strategy into our online platform that institutionalizes relevant information, including compliance lists, in order to create a seamless handoff from retiree to new hire,” Kittle said. “This role-based information system lets new hires know what they need to do and when they need to do it. No matter who may come and go, the responsibilities of the role generally remain unchanged and can be successfully managed.” 

In addition to software that eases succession planning, the company offers paid internships through the Munetrix University to college students who want to learn about careers in cities and schools by working with Munetrix and its local units of government customer base. The company has hired 23 interns since the Munetrix University program began in 2012. 

Since its founding in 2010, Munetrix has continued to solidify its reputation among government and school district leaders. Munetrix is an approved vendor prequalified by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget to provide data analytics tools for reimbursement to both Michigan public school districts and cities. It is the only resource provider that generates a fiscal wellness measure—the Munetrix Score—for cities and schools, and the company has twice received “Readers’ Choice Top Products” recognition from K-12 leaders’ education trade publication, District Administration. The GovTech100 for 2019 brings to nine the total number of awards Munetrix has received in just four years—reassurance that it is focused on the right things. 

News

Munetrix adds new Chief Administrator role as business opportunities expand

Auburn Hills, Mich. –January 4, 2019 –Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for states, local governments and public school districts, is pleased to announce Stacey Frankovich has joined the company in the new role of Chief Administrator. The announcement was made by Munetrix President, Bob Kittle. 

As Chief Administrator, Frankovich will be responsible for managing the day-to-day activities of the company, including the recruitment and hiring of new employees. 

“Munetrix has experienced significant growth in the last two years and we need the additional administrative oversight to keep the office running smoothly as business opportunities increase,” Kittle said. “Stacey Frankovich thrives in a fast-paced environment and brings handson experience in project management and process and procedure development; she also has strong organizational leadership skills.” 

Frankovich has served in a variety of roles that intersect with education and municipal government. Immediately prior to joining Munetrix, she served concurrent roles as both the Director, Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Macomb Community College and North American Lead for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Inclusive Innovation Challenge (MIT IIC). 

MIT IIC is a global challenge aimed at supporting entrepreneurs who are using technology for social change and inclusion in future of work initiatives. Frankovich’s responsibilities included managing the day-to-day operations of the North American Challenge and relationship building with municipalities, public and private partnerships, government agencies, industry leaders and entrepreneurs. At the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, she managed the Innovation Fund, a $2 million pre-seed collaboration between Macomb Community College and JP Morgan Chase for early-stage tech start-ups. 

Frankovich also served as the Michigan DARPA Matching Funds Program Manager, Development Manager and Market Development Manager for the Macomb/Oakland University Incubator from 2012 to 2015 and as Program Lead of i2B, a student business incubator at Oakland University, from 2011 to 2015. 

Frankovich is also active in civic and professional groups. She is a Governor-appointed public member of the Michigan Board of Medicine, and a public speaker on entrepreneurship opportunities at the college level. She holds a Master of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Administration from Baker College.

Municipal, Opinion

Why isn’t anybody talking about Horizontal Succession Planning?

A 2014 study by Stanford University School of Business found 46 percent of companies surveyed had a succession plan in place, but only 25 percent had a ready pool of successor candidates.

And, it’s even worse in the public sector, where 30-40 percent of the workforce is predicted to retire in the next decade and only 2 percent of recent graduates plan to enter the public sector. Despite the dismal future employee outlook, most studies of public sector succession planning have found that only 25 to 30 percent of organizations have a formal plan in place.

In organizations that do have a plan in place, there is a lack of consensus between managers and the workforce about the knowledge and skills it takes to fill top-level positions in the organization.

Failing to establish a succession plan could lead to catastrophic failures of service, failure to collect taxes or other fees, and organizational dysfunction that might take months or years to fix. With tight budgets, a dwindling workforce and more urgent matters at hand, most managers are hard pressed to find the time to do something that seems so far down the road. It doesn’t have to take extensive time, energy or funding to plan for the future and safeguard institutional knowledge.

Have we been looking at succession planning the wrong way?

Most organizations look at succession planning as a vertical ladder, where managers identify and train employees who will eventually fill their spot when they retire. While it is still important to identify and mentor promising employees, this method of succession planning usually is focused on the C-suite and any number of unforeseen circumstances can turn the entire plan on its head in an instant.

Maybe it’s time to approach succession planning on the horizontal plane.

Horizontal succession planning is the element that protects institutional knowledge across the organization, provides cover if a plan fails — for example if the heir apparent takes a last-minute position with another organization — and allows for seamless transitions at all levels of the organization.

News

Munetrix, the only entity tracking Michigan public school safety drill performance times, finds improved response rates between 2017 and 2018

Auburn Hills, Mich. –January 18, 2019–Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for states, local governments and public school districts, revealed the findings of its 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 review of tracking data on Michigan’s mandated public school safety drills, finding improvements in timing and safety, and also some areas where schools are beefing up security efforts. Munetrix is the only Michigan entity tracking such data. 

Per Michigan Public Act 12 of 2014, public school districts must run safety drills 10 times each year, for each building, for the following situations: 

  • Fire 
  • Tornado 
  • Lock Down 

Note: Cardiac incident/AED checks are optional per the legislation, but 10% of school districts in the study have reported data on them. 

Munetrix looked at data from a combined 4,025 public safety drills completed in the 2016 – 2017 and 2017 – 2018 school years from the 120 Michigan public school districts that use the Munetrix Public Safety Drill app for compliance and performance improvement. Of the 4,025 drills completed, 99% documented drill execution times and lessons-learned comments in the app. 

Key findings include: 

  • Fire Drill average execution time improved 4 percent from 2017 to 2018 
  • Tornado average execution time remained virtually the same from 2017 to 2018 
  • Lock Down average execution times improved 6 percent from 2017 to 2018 

The Munetrix Public Safety Drill app, which can also alert county emergency managers and first responders of an incident, allows for schools to submit feedback on drill results for each particular drill – and as this report shows, the overwhelming majority do. Munetrix Vice President and Co-Founder Buzz Brown said that while Michigan Public Act 12 doesn’t require comments, they are an acknowledgement of how seriously school administrators approach these drills. 

“Comments for improvement cite the need to shut doors, keep students quiet and enhance communication among staff, including substitute teachers, but the majority of feedback emphasizes how smoothly the drills went and areas that were improved over previous drills,” Brown said. “The overall efficiency of the drill process and efforts noted for improvement reflect the safety-first philosophy of Michigan’s school leaders. It’s a good example of the school community and the state working together for a common goal of student safety.” 

Bob Kittle, president of Munetrix, adds that Michigan Public Act 12 not only doesn’t require comments, it does not require school districts to include drill times in the documentation either. 

“When a mandate is made for an issue, especially those that involve student safety and have time sensitivity – like safety drills – tracking the data is a great way to validate the impact of the legislation and can even help establish benchmarks,” Kittle said. “Munetrix is leading the way in this effort. We believe all legislation should require statistical capture and reporting to determine if the desired outcome was achieved. Think of how much more we could learn about the effectiveness of Michigan Public Act 12 if this data was being captured for every district, as just one example. You know the old saying, what isn’t measured can’t be managed” 

Munetrix is holding a free webinar on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 at 2 pm entitled Lessons Learned from Statewide 2018 Public Safety Drills. Register here for the webinar or visit https://www.munetrix.com/.

Education, Fiscal Health, Municipal, News, Opinion

Finally, it’s not the economy; unfortunately, it’s still the education void

By: Bob Kittle

If it ain’t one thing, it’s another. Perhaps not the best way to start a blog that is ultimately on education, but as the economy hums along (despite some potentially scary headwinds with the recent GM announcement) education is the nemesis that Michigan (or at least Detroit) can’t seem to conquer.

The Detroit Regional Chamber recently released its 2018-2019 State of the Region providing economic indicators and critical areas of improvement for its 11-county region plus Detroit. The report overall offered an upbeat outlook on the region’s progress in many sectors, but underscored the importance in addressing areas in which the region continues to lag – notably education. In a spot-on Detroit News column by Daniel Howes, the education void is so dark and vast, its challenges may temper many of the positive gains made in the region and the state for recent years.

The good news is that Detroit is outpacing the nation in growth in real gross domestic product (2.7 percent vs. 2.2 percent nationally) and per capita income (4.3 percent compared to 4.1 percent nationally). That can’t be overlooked. Nor can the fact that Detroit was second in the nation in growth of median home values between 2013 and 2017, increasing by 42.4 percent (Seattle was number one). The high cost of living on the East and West Coasts makes Detroit attractive—a plus for companies aiming to boost and cultivate tech talent.

But contradicting these positive indicators are critical areas where Detroit is missing out, notably extreme poverty, low metrics on community well-being, and stagnant population growth. Yet the most pressing issue is the mediocre status of Detroit’s educational attainment—which was actually below the national numbers in 2017.

News

Munetrix receives “Education Advocate” award from Auburn Hills Chamber of Commerce at annual Silver & Gold event

Auburn Hills, Mich. –December 14, 2018 –Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for states, local governments and public school districts, received the “Education Advocate” award from the Auburn Hills Chamber of Commerce at its annual, sold-out Silver & Gold awards ceremony held December 10, 2012 at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham. The award was accepted by Munetrix President, Bob Kittle. 

One of several awards presented to Auburn Hills Chamber members and area business and nonprofits who reflect excellence and leadership in their respective organizations and industries, the Education Advocate award was sponsored by Baker College and presented to the company with the most progressive education initiatives. Munetrix, with more than 200 school district customers throughout Michigan, is committed to creating efficient tech tools that increase productivity within schools to maximize their limited resources and improve access to – and use of- meaningful data for smart planning and state-required compliance. 

With estimates showing that only 2% of graduates are bound for a career in the public sector, while more than 30% of public sector employees are expected to retire in the next seven years, Munetrix is also looking to develop future professional administrators to lead local units of government in both cities and schools. The Education Advocate award specifically highlighted Munetrix’s action in responding to this silver tsunami of anticipated retirements. 

Capitalizing on its proximity to higher education in and near Auburn Hills, Kittle established a paid internship program at the company called the ‘Munetrix University’ for students who want to learn more about public sector careers. While the internships aren’t based in cities or schools, students work hand-in-hand with people in real school/government jobs and are exposed to the issues these government units face. From budgeting and planning, to the economics associated with population and school enrollment trends, Munetrix interns get a deep dive into the type of work local leaders perform. 

“23 interns have come through the Munetrix University since 2012,” Kittle said. “Some have gone on to government work, graduate school, university jobs or traditional corporate careers, but no matter what direction they take, the interns leave with many skills they did not have prior to their internship; plus, they obtain an awareness of professional career opportunities in local government that are not necessarily discussed in lecture halls or at college career fairs.” 

There has also been measurable success for Munetrix, which has converted several interns to full-time staff members over the years. Three of the company’s 12 current employees initially joined as interns. In hiring former interns, Munetrix has gained a ‘millennial viewpoint’ on its own city and school-based work. 

“These young adults are teaching us a thing or two,” Kittle said. “We are very appreciative of the Education Advocate award from the Auburn Hills Chamber because it helps us spread the word not only about the Munetrix University, but about the interesting career opportunities available in schools, cities and other local units of government that may have been otherwise overlooked. On top of that, these future leaders are learning how to bring advanced technology into a sector that desperately needs it.” Since its founding in 2010, Munetrix has continued to build its reputation among government and school district leaders. It is one of only two approved vendors prequalified by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget to provide data analytics tools for reimbursement to both Michigan public school districts and cities. It is the only resource provider that generates a fiscal wellness measure – the Munetrix Score – for cities and schools. The company has twice received “Readers’ Choice Top Products” recognition from K-12 leaders’ education trade publication, District Administration, and has been named a GovTech100 company for three consecutive years. GovTech100 is a competitive annual index by Government Technology magazine that highlights the top 100 companies in the country serving government in unique, innovative and effective ways. This most recent award brings to eight the total number of awards Munetrix has received in just four years – reassurance that it is focused on the right things. 

News

Michigan Elementary & Middle School Principals Association (MEMSPA) taps Munetrix for exclusive data analytics partnership

Auburn Hills, Mich. – October 2, 2018 –Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for states, local governments and public school districts, has entered into an exclusive partnership with the Michigan Elementary & Middle School Principals Association to broaden the use of Munetrix’s powerful data analytics services to principals tasked with improving student outcomes and teacher effectiveness. The announcement was made by Munetrix President Bob Kittle. 

“As more legislative directives get passed down to school administrators, they have less time to focus on student outcomes. Our partnership with MEMSPA will introduce time saving data science and data management technology to MEMSPA members, affording them the efficiency gains necessary to accommodate the increased demands on their time as human and capital resources continue to dwindle,” Kittle said. 

The initial focus of the MEMSPA/Munetrix partnership will be on helping school administrators meet the daunting task of complying with PA 173, where individual student Growth Percentiles (SGPs) and Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) are required to calculate teacher evaluations, weighted to 40 percent in the 2018-2019 school year. The data required to generate teacher evaluations spans a three-year period, but the school roster data in its current format was never designed to be used in a consolidated manner as outlined by PA 173, according to Kittle. 

“The amount of effort to format the data so it can be made usable is not something a school district has the time or resources to handle on its own, and is why the SLO and SGP Advanced Academic Achievement tools recently released by Munetrix are so valuable for administrators who would otherwise struggle to meet the requirement,” Kittle said.

Paul Liabenow, Executive Director of MEMSPA, affirmed that the partnership with Munetrix is particularly timely. 

“Even though there has been legislation introduced to delay the implementation of the 40 percent requirement this year, 25 percent of a teacher’s evaluation is already based on student growth – and obtaining the data is a challenge,” Liabenow said. “Partnering with Munetrix now gives our members access to technology that will afford them more time to focus on their primary goals of teacher and student development and not data processing.” 

Barring legislative changes, the compliance requirement for Public Act 173 is at the end of the 2018-2019 school year. 

About MEMSPA 

The Michigan Elementary & Middle School Principals Association (MEMSPA) is a community of principals dedicated to advocating, leading and learning. MEMSPA recognizes the evolving nature of a principal’s role and supports those committed to this important work. Learn more at MEMSPA.org

News

Munetrix introduces new Student Learning Objectives (SLO) version of its Educator Evaluator tool for seamless compliance with Michigan Public Act 173

Auburn Hills, Mich. – September 17, 2018 – Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for states, local governments and public school districts, has released its new Munetrix Student Learning Objectives (SLO) version of the Educator Evaluator tool to simplify customer compliance with Michigan Public Act 173, which governs educator evaluations for teachers and administrators in the State of Michigan. 

Signed into law in 2015, PA 173 requires that educator evaluations be conducted annually, and that they incorporate student growth data as a significant component, beginning with 25% of the evaluation in the 2015-2016 school year and growing to 40% in 2018-2019*. Teachers and administrators with three consecutive years of highly effective ratings may receive biennial reviews in place of annual reviews, making the 2018-2019 results particularly critical. 

The SLO tool is an addition to the Munetrix SGP Educator Evaluator, which is used for national and state normalized assessments like NWEA and M-STEP and was introduced in April 2018. The SLO tool incorporates the six methods of determining student success as identified by the Michigan Department of Education:

  • Meeting Average Change of Previous Years by Quintile
  • Exceeding Average Change of Previous Years by a Percent
  • Simple Average Growth 
  • Meeting a Proficiency Score • Group Effect Size Score
  • Tiered Growth Projections 

Both Munetrix Educator Evaluator tools put school roster data in a usable format for these state- required evaluations, according to Munetrix Vice President and Co-Founder Buzz Brown.

“The Munetrix SLO & SGP Educator Evaluator tools simplify the onerous task of manipulating data from multiple sources while performing teacher evaluations in the 2018-2019 school year,” Brown said. “School roster data was designed to link a student, teacher and classroom for every hour of every day during the school year; the rosters were not intended to calculate teacher evaluation scores to reveal three-year trends and cannot be used in their current format for calculating educator scores. That’s where the benefits of the Munetrix Educator Evaluator tools and data science come into play.” 

The Munetrix Educator Evaluator tools are foundationally based on the Michigan Department of Education’s model and integrated into the Munetrix platform using the company’s data science expertise, allowing school administrators in most cases to load their own data and obtain results. 

“Without these tools, teachers will have to spend hours performing data cleansing and manipulation, which takes time away from the classroom,” Brown said. “Michigan school districts simply cannot afford to have their educators spend time manually inputting data for this purpose.” 

The Munetrix SLO Educator Evaluator can be used for any assessment data that provides preand post-test scores, making it easy for users to calculate teacher evaluations. This is especially useful in certain grade levels and in subject areas where national and state normalized assessments are not available, such as art and band, and with special education. 

Since its founding in 2010, Munetrix has continued to build its reputation among government and school district leaders. Munetrix is one of only two approved vendors prequalified by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget to provide data analytics tools for reimbursement to both Michigan public school districts and cities and is the only resource provider that generates a fiscal wellness measure. In 2016, the company received “Readers’ Choice Top Products” recognition for the second consecutive year from K-12 leaders’ education trade publication, District Administration. Munetrix has also been named a GovTech100 company for three consecutive years, an annual index by Government Technology magazine that highlights the top 100 companies in the country serving government in unique, innovative and effective ways. 

*Pending legislation, Michigan HB5707, is seeking a one-year reprieve on the 40% student growth data for the 2018-2019 school year, asking instead that the percentage be kept at 25% through this school year. 

News

Munetrix adds new Vice President of Technology to its executive team

Auburn Hills, Mich. – August 28, 2018 –Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for states, local governments and public school districts, is pleased to announce that Mathew Varghese has joined the company as Vice President of Technology. The announcement was made by Munetrix President, Bob Kittle. 

In this new role, Varghese will be a member of the Munetrix executive team, directing and managing the entire database, product development roadmap, hosting, data governance and other high level technical management activities. Varghese worked with Munetrix as an external consultant for nearly five years and recently returned to the United States following a two-year stay in India with his family. 

“Mathew Varghese brings an advanced skillset to Munetrix,” Kittle said. “Plus, because he is already attuned to both the Munetrix platform and our corporate culture of service and innovation, he can make an immediate impact on our strategy, which has always been focused on delighting customers and solving problems for them using data science and technology.” 

Varghese previously owned Michigan-based iTekk, LLC, a technology consulting firm. He also worked as a business analyst at IBM in Southfield, Michigan for more than eight years. Varghese holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from TKM College of Engineering, India. He is a resident of Troy, Michigan

Education, K-12, News

Cities & Schools Reach Crisis Point Due to States’ Low Economic Reserves

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (Many States Are Unprepared for Next Economic Downturn) caught my attention because it highlighted a key factor adding to the fiscal stress of municipalities and schools.  The article suggested that most states are unprepared for an inevitable economic downturn as they lack the necessary fiscal reserves or rainy-day funds to cushion the next financial blow, and, it’s already having a negative trickle-down effect.

Forced to do more with less since the last recession, cities and schools are continually struggling with reduced revenue sharing from their states while scrambling to meet the demands of unfunded mandates, retiree obligations, an aging infrastructure and even increased student testing. Add this to the anticipated silver tsunami caused by public sector retirements in the next decade, we see a myriad of local governments that are already stretched too thin and have reached a crisis point.

One of the most alarming things noted in the WSJ article was that some states appear to have little sense of urgency and limited tools to address these budgetary shortfalls. Forget crisis point—this dilemma will have far-reaching and long-term consequences for the populations served by those who gloss over the unavoidable hard truth and do nothing about it now.

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