Case Study: How Brilla used Edstruments to Engage and Empower Principals
In the classical tradition, Brilla Public Charter Schools “help students to grow intellectually, socially, and physically into young men and women of good character and spirit.” While its mission may be rooted in historical precedent, this New York City charter network isn’t afraid to innovate when supporting its students and staff.
Before Edstruments, Brilla’s finance team needed five monthly meetings with budget owners with budget owners to ensure all parties were aligned on goals and priorities. Besides demanding a hefty block of time, these meetings could be sidetracked by overcomplicated spreadsheets that were inaccessible to school leaders without deep finance backgrounds.
Moreover, budget information often had a lag of around 20 days, making conversations less timely and opening the door for over/under spending as sites approached the end of the school year.
Edstruments' powerful integration with Brilla’s accounting system (QuickBooks Online) led to a transformed experience for Brilla leaders, bringing information to them within one hour of being entered in QBO. This real-time information, in turn:
1. Helped principals become more proactive in watching spending 💸 👀
2. Promoted more engagement through real-time budget updating ⏱ 💨
3. Allowed offline conversations to occur as soon as questions or concerns arose ⚡️🗣
Because of these workflow improvements, Brilla substantially reduced the time spent in budget meetings; not only was finance manager Trevor Sorensen able to make his budget meetings necessary only every other month while halving the time of each — a 75% reduction in meeting times for everyone involved.
School and operations leaders also saved 2 hours in prep time every month by having constant access to all of their relevant budget information — information now accurate to within one day rather than 20.
When asked about how school leaders felt about the tool after only seven months, Sorensen described a sense of engagement and appreciation.
“Principals are finding it useful, and we get a lot of positive feedback on the interface. Certain campuses are using it on a daily basis, and there’s definitely a desire to continue to use it and integrate it more fully into the workflow.”
Sorensen also described how, while the substance of budget meetings might be the same as before, efficiency has meaningfully improved since adopting the platform.
“It’s a lot easier to have conversations when everyone knows what’s going on going into the meetings,” he remarked.
For example, in the past, 10 minutes in a budget meeting could be lost looking for details related to a particular transaction (not to mention post-meeting back-and-forths of spreadsheets to analyze the line item under review). Thanks to the robust search functionality, auto-synced transaction details, and intuitive user interface in Edstruments, this is no longer an issue.
Now, rather than hunting down specific cells and line items, Brilla staff can focus on higher-level priorities.
How are sites trending towards their spending benchmarks? 🧐
How are investments impacting site academic or socio-emotional goals? 🤔
With a budgeting tool more powerful and user-friendly than Excel or Google Sheets, Edstruments helps leaders uncover compelling insights into such questions, ultimately helping teams stay compliant and aligned on best practices for school finance management.
“The most positive impact of the platform is that now we’re confident our staff have the information they need at any time” said Sorensen. “Our finance team knows that principals and operations staff have the resources and support necessary to make decisions in real-time, rather than waiting every month for financial reports to figure out what they’re going to do.”
When asked what he may say to others considering adopting a K12 school budget management software, Sorensen was succinct:
“Making sure that [finance leaders] are giving principals what they can work with is essential, and that’s what Edstruments does.”
Edstruments was founded to help public school systems including both traditional school districts and charter schools make the most of their resources on behalf of students. We work with leaders in all roles to empower their decision-making, utilizing principles like those written about in this article. Increase your collaboration, plan multiple scenarios with ease, and deploy your dollars more strategically. Interested in learning more? Reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org today!