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
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
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
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.”