Idaho School District Adopts Data Visualization Software to Steer Strategic Planning

To support and guide the planning, passing, and implementation of a $36 million bond, Cassia School District administrators chose the geovisual analytics platform from GuideK12 to drive the data-driven scenario planning they used to communicate widespread change within the district.

Cassia County Schools, a primarily rural district covering a geographic area larger than the state of Delaware, has seen steady growth as new industry has moved into the area. The newly passed bond will fund construction of a new elementary school as well as 13 additional renovation projects in the district’s 17 schools. In addition to construction and renovation, grade reconfiguration will convert four of the elementary schools into K-6 neighborhood schools. Community support has been strong to reduce and minimize the number of building transitions for elementary students from the K-3 and 4-6 models to the K-6 model.

Chris James, the fiscal manager of Cassia Schools, and the administrative team saw the immediate impact that GuideK12 would have on their strategic planning, allowing them to inform stakeholders in real time using digital "scenario" maps.

James said, “The ability to understand and display things like voter locations and property values was invaluable to our district, allowing us to concentrate limited resources that led to greater success and transparency. GuideK12 was helpful to show population concentrations on a digital, interactive map throughout the bond process to gain understanding and support.”

GuideK12 is web-based software designed to assist district administrators with analyzing complex data in an interactive format focusing on topics like school boundaries, grade reconfiguration, emergency planning, and resource placement.

“Technology like GuideK12 has a wide variety of applications in a district,” James said. “Our after-school education program wanted to do an after-school snack program, but to qualify for proper funding they needed to be able to demonstrate that the selected locations were where the need was the highest. GuideK12 makes showing something like that easy.”

With the passage of this bond, Cassia will begin to examine boundaries for populating the new elementary building, as well as the best way to temporarily shift students during renovations and construction. The new site provides the space the district needs to keep classroom sizes small and to eliminate the use of portable classrooms. Aside from construction, the next few years will see a grade shift to K-6 community schools.

“Without GuideK12, it would have been cumbersome, difficult, and time consuming to make these changes. The ability to understand the effects of each change at the student level allows us to consider the unique needs of our student population, and ensure each is in the right building with the right support programs, such as ESL or for special needs. You don’t get the same insights from looking at a static spreadsheet,” said James.