Updated: 02/03/2013 5:41 PM KSTP.com By: Kaitlin Stevens
A Stevens Point company says it will appeal a Wisconsin Department of Administration decision to give a Minnesota company a $15 million education services contract.
The department announced late Friday that it selected Blaine, Minn.-based Infinite Campus Inc. to be the sole provider of student information systems to Wisconsin's more than 440 school districts and non-district charter schools. It said Infinite Campus had the highest scoring proposal based on several criteria, including having the highest technical score and the lowest cost.
But losing bidder Skyward Inc. said the evaluation process was flawed, the Stevens Point Journal reported Sunday. The company also said in a statement Saturday that late changes to the process favored Infinite Campus and put Skyward at a disadvantage.
Five other out-of-state companies also lost out in the bidding process. The losing bidders all have until Feb. 15 to review and protest the state's decision.
"Throughout this process, all we wanted was a fair and impartial evaluation that was in the best interest of Wisconsin school districts," Skyward CEO Cliff King said in the statement. "Based on what we know today, it is only prudent on behalf of our customers, employees and the taxpayers of Wisconsin that we contest this decision."
In June, the Department of Administration halted the search for a statewide student information system provider after Gov. Scott Walker's administration learned that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. had made a preliminary offer of tax breaks to Skyward should it receive the state contract, which could have given Skyward a leg up on others bidding for the project. The WEDC later rescinded the tax credit offer.
State Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, and Stevens Point Mayor Andrew Halverson decried the state's decision to choose the Minnesota company, saying it would prevent the creation of good-paying jobs in Wisconsin. Skyward has more than 350 employees with 10 offices across the U.S, with 270 employed in Wisconsin. It has previously said it would likely move if it didn't get the contract, but that it could eventually hire more than 600 people in Wisconsin if it won.
"It is tremendously shortsighted of this state to somehow think that spending $15 million of our tax dollars on an outside company is a good thing," Halverson said in a statement. "Not only will this not mean Wisconsin jobs, it will not contribute to the economic vitality that we are all trying so hard to create statewide."
Skyward currently sells management software to track grades, attendance and other information for 220 of Wisconsin's 424 districts.
Lassa said in a statement that the decision will cause chaos and expenses for budget-strapped school districts statewide that will have to scrap perfectly good Skyward systems and replace them with one created out of state.
Lassa called on Walker and state schools Superintendent Tony Evers to hold off until an independent review can take place.
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