Regional legislators introduce multi-vendor SIS bill
Written by Stevens Point Journal Media
A bipartisan group of central Wisconsin state legislators on Wednesday introduced a bill that would create a multivendor system for the state’s student information system, which they say will allow Stevens Point-based Skyward Inc. to continue to sell its product in Wisconsin.
The group includes state Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, Rep. Amy Sue Vruwink, D-Milladore, Rep. John Spiros, R-Marshfield, and Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point.
“I believe the school systems should be given options as to what programs will enhance their district, both cost and performance wise,” Spiros said in a news release. “I believe it’s important to promote local companies and benefit from the services they provide to our state.”
The bill would change state law to require the Department of Public Instruction to select two or more SIS vendors after going requesting proposals.
Both Shankland and Vruwink said the bill would give more local control to school districts to select an SIS provider based on their needs and resources. They added that the bill would allow a company such as Skyward the opportunity to keep jobs in Wisconsin.
Wednesday’s bill is in response to the announcement by the Department of Administration on Feb. 1 to award an estimated $15 million contract to Minnesota-based Infinite Campus as the state’s sole student information system provider. The Blaine, Minn., company had the highest scoring proposal based on several criteria, including having the highest technical score and the lowest cost, according to a state news release. The search process also was observed by Cari Anne Renlund with the DeWitt, Ross & Stevens Law Firm, who concluded it was fair.
Skyward has submitted its notice to protest the state’s decision, claiming that its bid was $2.6 million less a year than Infinite Campus. It also claimed that implementation costs identified by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, which are the responsibility of each school district, were not considered in the evaluation. A total of seven companies bid on the project, and losing bidders on the contract have until Friday to protest the decision.
Skyward, which provides management software to track grades, attendance and other information for 220 of Wisconsin’s 424 districts, had been delaying both an expansion in the Stevens Point area and hiring toward a projected total of more than 600 jobs in the state by 2021 pending the outcome of the search.
“Skyward already serves half of all Wisconsin public schools with their SIS software, and the educators I’ve spoken with are satisfied with the company's product and customer service,” Lassa said. “If the single-vendor decision stands, hundreds of school districts will have to scrap perfectly good SIS systems and pay to replace them with one created out of state.”