Skyward Considers Next Move After Losing State Bid

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

A Stevens Point company may be forced to leave the state after the WI Department of Administration's decision to hire a Minnesota company to track student information.

Skyward lost a multimillion dollar contract bid to provide the Statewide Student Information Systems for the state's 440 school districts, despite already providing the the software for half of them.

Skyward also provides financial software for 80 percent of school districts, but soon they won't be providing anything for the state.

In the last two years, the state decided to go with a single vendor system to track student information; everything from attendance to grades to health records.

Friday, DOA announced its choice of Infinite Campus, Inc. of Minnesota, over Skyward and five other vendors, citing the company had the highest technical score on their scale and the lowest proposed cost.

But the C.E.O. of Skyward says eliminating the multi-vendor system and therefore competition, means they can't do business in their own state.

"What a single vendor does is eliminate competition and basically what has taken us since 1980 to build this business, by the state making this decision they're basically telling us we cannot sell our product in the state of Wisconsin," Cliff King said.

By choosing Infinite Campus, which currently provides SIS for about ten percent of Wisconsin school districts, the remaining districts will be forced to convert software costing time and money.

Meanwhile, Stevens Point Mayor Andrew Halverson calls the state's decision tremendously shortsighted, adding that if Wisconsin is truly open for business now is the time to prove it.

"Wisconsin jobs are at risk when we're trying to espouse that we're open for business and we are almost single handily by this contract decision telling a Wisconsin company, you might as well turn your sign to closed," Mayor Halverson said.

Skyward has contested the state's decision, and Mayor Halverson is in talks with state legislators hoping they will intervene by choosing Skyward or going back to a multi-vendor system.

"It doesn't pass the common sense test, it shouldn't pass the electorate's test either in holding the individuals accountable, which in my opinion are twofold a democrat and a republican, State Superintendent Tony Evers and Governor Scott Walker," Halverson said.

Rep. Katrina Shankland is calling on the Governor and his administration to conduct a thorough review of the evaluation process and decision after Skyward called the process flawed.

“The SSIS procurement, evaluation, and selection process has raised concerns since day one. I call on Governor Walker and the DOA to add transparency to the process by explaining whether any changes were made, what these changes were, and specifically why Infinite Campus was chosen. Skyward and Central Wisconsin deserve answers," she wrote in a statement.

King says if the state's decision remains, the company will likely move its headquarters out of state. Currently Skyward employs 280 employees in Stevens Point. King stresses those employees will keep their jobs, but they would likely be encouraged to pull up roots and move to wherever the new headquarters are.

The Portage County Business Council has also reached out to members, encouraging them to contact the Governor and state legislators.

It's still unclear whether the school districts not currently using Infinite Campus software will have to pay to convert to the new system, or if the state will foot the bill.

The Stevens Point School District, which currently uses Skyward, has estimated their cost to convert to be $447,000.

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