STEVENS POINT, WI (WSAU) - A school software developer based in Stevens Point will challenge Friday’s announcement by Wisconsin’s Department of Administration to award a 15 million dollar statewide student information software contract to Infinite Campus Inc. of Blaine Minnesota The deal would put the same software in every Wisconsin school district.
Clifford King is Skyward’s Chief Executive Officer. He says they tried to convince the state that you really don’t need one provider. “We were concerned they were going to go with a single vendor, so we lobbied to get a multiple vendor solution, because we feel in any state solution, a multiple vendor approach is the best way to go. It encourages competition. It keeps everybody on the straight and narrow when it comes to delivering services like software.” Skyward already operates in other states including Texas where there is a statewide contract with multiple vendors.
King says the state’s cost figures don’t show the real total cost, because the local districts will have to foot the bill for converting to a new system. When you look at the true cost, the School District of Stevens Point did a study, and they’re saying it’s somewhere between $400,000 to $450,000 for what it’s goint to cost them to switch over. This is above and beyond the RFP (Request for Proposal) that the Department of Public Instruction is looking on, They’re just saying that, hey, the real cost they’re going to have for that district is $450,000. We also had numbers from the Eau Claire School District as well, and I think they were about $350,000.” In Wisconsin, 90% of all districts would have to pay to convert to something they didn’t choose. King says Skyward already serves nearly 80% of Wisconsin’s school districts.
King says if the state forces them out, the company will likely move its corporate offices out of Wisconsin. “If I had my choice, I’d rather do it here in Wisconsin, but if you can’t sell a product, why, why on earth would you make any capital investment in a state where you can’t sell your product?”
If Skyward must move out of Wisconsin, King says it will expand its business in other parts of the country instead of Stevens Point. He says the existing employees have been assured their jobs are safe. “We’ve already sent out an email to our employees saying that their jobs are going to be secured. We’re going to do what we can to convince them that wherever we move to is going to be a better place for them, but if they want to stay here in Stevens Point, they’re still going to have their jobs. That’s the kind of company that we are.”
Stevens Point Mayor Andrew Halverson is disappointed, saying every elected official including himself is trying to do everything they can to create jobs and the state is actually costing jobs with this decision. “The state is saying, We prefer to do business with a Minnesota company, as opposed to 60 to 70 jobs instantly that are created by Skyward here in Stevens Point and hundreds more than can happen in the future as this company continues to grow, and hopefully, in a new 15 million dollar new corporate headquarters in the city as well.”
Skyward has until Mid February to contest the decision by the Department of Public Instruction and the Department of Administration.
State Senator Julie Lassa is on record supporting Skyward’s effort to challenge the contract award. So far, WSAU has not received comments from other area legislators , Superintendent Tony Evers, or the Governor as of Monday afternoon.