MADISON, WI (WSAU) - Supporters of a Stevens Point based school software developer are celebrating today. Skyward, which creates student information software for school districts around the world has emerged from nearly four months of uncertainty, and will be allowed to continue providing services to Wisconsin schools.
The Department of Public Instruction had followed Legislature and Governor’s direction from two years ago and created a single-vendor system, which would have required every Wisconsin school district to install the same vendor’s product. In February, DPI selected Infinite Campus to provide that product. That meant over 500 Wisconsin districts would have been forced to change systems, and pay the conversion costs beyond the amount provided by the state.
In a 14-2 vote, the Joint Finance Committee passed the budget motion defunding the single-vendor system and allowing schools to make their own decisions for a software provider provided the necessary data is sent to the Department of Public Instruction.
Scott Glinski of Skyward says this is a huge victory, and he’s optimistic the budget will pass both houses of the Legislature and be signed into law by Governor Scott Walker. This also means Skyward will not leave Wisconsin. That’s important since Skyward is planning to expand with hundreds of additional jobs and a new Stevens Point facility in the near future.
Central Wisconsin’s legislators are also cheering the Joint Finance Committee’s decision. Democrat Katrina Shankland from Stevens Point says she and others worked hard to make sure committee members on both sides of the aisle to make sure they listened and understood what was on the line.
Republican Scott Krug from Port Edwards says this has been a great example of how both sides can work together to do the right thing. He says technology changes all of the time, and it’s not the same situation as it was just two years ago and he’s glad the committee can see that you don’t need a single vendor to manage this student data. Krug was pleased that Joint Finance Committee members who voted for the single vendor system two years ago have changed their position to support a free market multi-vendor approach that allows schools to make their own decisions.
Shankland says her proposed Assembly Bill 60 to legislatively strip the funding remains stuck in committee, so she was happy they were able to convince the Joint Finance Committee to take away the funding. She says this battle was won, but they still have to make sure this budget goes through the Legislature.
Infinite Campus, which was awarded the single vendor contract from the Department of Public Instruction, issued a written statement after the Joint Finance Committee vote saying, "The outrageous action by the Joint Committee on Finance to reverse the single vendor solution for a statewide student information system sets a dangerous precedent for all future state procurements. It tells prospective bidders they can use the political process to get a different outcome if a procurement doesn’t go their way. Companies expect, and taxpayers demand fair, open and transparent procurements. If a company doesn’t like the results of a state procurement, then they should follow the formal legal appeal process, and not resort to strong-arm political tactics to get their way. Infinite Campus had the lowest bid and the highest technical score in the procurement."
Both Krug and Shankland are both optimistic this amendment to the budget will pass the full Legislature.