Budget committee delivers victory for Skyward
Written by Nathan Vine, Stevens Point Journal Media
MADISON — The Legislature’s budget committee has voted to change how the state contracts for a student information system, delivering a victory for Stevens Point-based Skyward.
Earlier this year, Skyward lost out to Minnesota-based Infinite Campus for a contract to provide a statewide student information system in Wisconsin. That contract was for a single company to run the information system.
But the Joint Finance Committee on Wednesday in a bipartisan move voted 14-2 to delete the almost $14 million in funding for the project. Instead, the Department of Public Instruction will now be required to develop a multivendor system, for which Skyward has long advocated. The company, which is in the process of appealing the awarding of the contract to Infinite Campus, has threatened to leave the state since it did not win the contract.
“We’re absolutely excited. There is still a lot of work to be done, but we would consider this a big victory,” Skyward President Scott Glinski said. “There’s been a real grassroots effort from communities and our customers across the state who have reached out to their legislators and told them they want to have a choice.”
Rep. Scott Krug, R-Rome, said while a multivendor system would still have to pass both the Assembly and Senate as part of the total budget, he felt good about that prospect.
“There’s no guarantee, but I think the vote today came from a good cross-section of the Assembly and Senate,” Krug said. “I feel a lot better about it then I did before today.”
A group of central Wisconsin legislators who introduced legislation in April to create a multivendor system also expressed satisfaction over the committee’s decision. Rep. Amy Sue Vruwink, who noted she was disappointed their legislation never received a hearing, said many school districts will now avoid the cost of converting to a single vendor. Rep. John Spiros, R-Marshfield, added that hundreds of local jobs will be saved as a result of the decision.
Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, thanked Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, who served on the Joint Finance Committee, for introducing the budget motion, which was held a week after originally being scheduled for a vote last week. Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, encouraged people to continue to contact legislators and Gov. Scott Walker in support of keeping the multivendor system in the state budget.
“This happened because people got involved in the process and expressed their opinion, and that has to continue until the budget is signed,” Shankland said.