Wisconsin Bids Against Skyward
Justin Sullivan

Skyward Inc., a school software company founded in Stevens Point in 1980 that has grown into a worldwide business, is protesting the system of bidding that awarded a large contract to Infinite Campus from Minnesota.

The contract is worth $15 million but has the potential to be worth as much as $80 million over the next ten years. The chosen company will run the student information system for Wisconsin schools.

Skyward, which serves more than 1,600 school districts world­wide, filed its official complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction on Friday. The department will review the bidding and evalua­tion procedures, which Skyward said were unfair, to ensure each company receives an equal chance at the lucra­tive contract.

In a Feb. 15 press release, Skyward stated that there were discrepancies between the Wisconsin Department of Administration reviews and its own findings.

One of their points is that Skyward will cost the state $14.5 million less than Infinite Campus over the ten-year span of the contract. Skyward argued the Department failed to recognize this because of a flawed cost-analysis system employed by the department. Skyward said that the decision to switch to a new vendor would also reach tax payers, since 90 percent of the implementation costs are going to Wisconsin school dis­tricts.

Skyward also argued that the software vendor which was chosen received inflated scores in 73 differ­ent cases, some as high as double the possible amounts given on the scor­ing matrix used to grade the vendors.

Skyward also said that it received deflated scores in areas where it clear­ly exceeds requirements and said it even had its scores changed from the initial tabulation.

Skyward said that a commit­tee member was removed from the selection committee after perceived bias against the chosen vendor, even though an independent observer selected by the department claimed no bias was observed.

All of this leads to an uncer­tain time for Skyward and its 270 Wisconsin employees. The com­pany has even threatened to leave the state if the awarded bid remains unchanged. If the bid stays the same, Skyward also has the ability to appeal directly to the Department.

Skyward was projected to grow to over 600 employees worldwide.

Many are upset at the prospect of Skyward leaving the state because of the perceived unfairness of the contract bidding process, especially considering the jobs leaving the state.

“As the state spends hundreds of millions of dollars to promote business development, it makes little sense to chase hundreds of good-paying jobs away,” said State Senator Julie Lassa (D) in a statement on her website. “His [Gov. Scott Walker] administration’s decision to give the Statewide Student Information System contract to a Minnesota com­pany and bar Skyward from continu­ing to sell this product to school dis­tricts in Wisconsin is mind-boggling. Governor Walker and his administra­tion should be holding Skyward up as an example of a Wisconsin entre­preneurial success story, not blocking the company from selling one of its products in our state.”