Stevens Point Journal: Skyward supporters launch Facebook campaign
Written by Nathan Vine, Stevens Point Journal Media
Local support for Skyward continued to build Sunday after the Stevens Point-based company was passed over the be the sole provider for of student information systems to Wisconsin’s school districts and nondistrict charter schools.
A new Facebook page, “Keep Wisconsin Open To Skyward,” was started on Friday and had already passed 540 likes by Sunday evening. The page, which called for people to “Please join us in demanding that Wisconsin remains Open For Business to Wisconsin companies!”, also asked for people to contact state news outlets who hadn’t covered the issue yet.
On Friday, the Wisconsin Department of Administration announced that Minnesota-based Infinite Campus Inc. was selected for the estimated $15 million contract. The company had the highest scoring proposal based on several criteria, including having the highest technical score and the lowest cost, according to the news release.
The process to find a single provider began in November 2011 as part of Gov. Scott Walker’s 2011-13 state budget, but stalled in June 2012 after the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. made a preliminary offer of tax credits to Skyward should it get the contract. WEDC later rescinded the offer. The most recent search was observed by Cari Anne Renlund with the DeWitt, Ross & Stevens Law Firm, according to Friday’s news release, who concluded that the process was fair.
Along with Skyward, other companies who submitted proposals were California-based Edupoint Educational Systems, Florida-based Focus School Software, Illinois-based Follett Software Co., New York-based Pearson Inc. and Alabama-based Software Technology Inc. The losing bidders have until Feb. 15 to review and protest the state’s decision.
On Saturday, Skyward announced it would challenge the decision, calling it flawed and claiming late changes to the search process favored Infinite Campus and disadvantaged Skyward. Local officials released statements in support of Skyward including state Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, who called for Walker and state Superintendent Tony Evers to hold off implementing the decision until an independent review can take place.
Cliff King, Skyward CEO, has said the company would likely move if it wasn’t selected for the contract, and was 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. Currently, Skyward sells management software to track grades, attendance and other information for 220 of Wisconsin’s 424 districts.
One of the people who posted on the Facebook page on Sunday was state Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, of the 71st Assembly District. Shankland gave the numbers of Walker and Evers, and asked people to call them in support of Skyward.
In a news release sent late Saturday, Shankland criticized the selection along with the proposal of a single-vendor system. She also supported an independent review of the search process.
“It is extremely disturbing to me that at a time when Wisconsin is 42nd in the nation in job creation, Gov. Walker and the DOA have made the decision to literally ship jobs out of state,” Shankland said in the release. “It is outrageous that Gov. Walker claims job creation is his priority, yet his administration does not hesitate to directly cause hundreds of Wisconsinites to lose their jobs — for the benefit of an out-of-state company, no less.”