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February 17, 2013

Infinite Campus Prevails in Statewide Deal; Wisconsin company protests losing $15M state contract to Minnesota company

The Wisconsin company that lost out on a contract to run a student information system in the state's schools protested the awarding of the bid to Minnesota's Infinite Campus on Friday, arguing that the process was unfair.

Skyward Inc., of Stevens Point, said in its protest filed with the state Department of Public Instruction that it should be awarded the contract or all the bids should be thrown out. Skyward said DPI, as well as the committee of five unidentified people who evaluated the bids, "failed to provide a fair, transparent, and open process."

Skyward, which employs about 270 people statewide, threatened to leave Wisconsin if it lost the contract that's $15 million initially but could grow to as high as $80 million over the next decade. The company has been waging a public relations battle for the past two weeks since the state announced the contract would be going to Infinite Campus of Blaine, Minn., running full-page ads in newspapers across the state urging people to contact Gov. Scott Walker.

Hillary Gavan:
School District of Beloit Director of Technology Victor Masliah said Beloit has been using Skyward Student system for 20 years. On Monday he said all districts have been asked to convert their student system side to Infinite Campus in the next five years. The latest state decision only affects the Skyward Student side, as Infinite Campus does not have a business side.

"The longer we wait, the higher our conversion costs may be as we continue to enter more types of data into our Skyward Student system daily," he said.

Masliah said 80 percent of Wisconsin school districts use the business side of Skyward, as it's recognized to be the best business system for schools.

The student side of Skyward costs approximately $52,000 per year, and the business side costs about $66,000 per year. Transitioning a system brings significant costs in data conversions, data migrations and trainings. For example, switching to a different Student system could potentially cost between $200,000 to $450,000.

The evaluation was accurate and fair. That's what Infinite Campus says about the process used to pick them to provide student information services for most schools across the Badger State.

Over the past couple weeks we've heard a lot from Skyward. They're asking Wisconsin residents to encourage the state Department of Instruction to overturn its decision to go with Infinite Campus.

Today, we examined the actual score card that lead Infinite Campus, based in Minnesota, to get the job. That scorecard was released by Infinite Campus.

It ranks 31 different categories such as grading, attendance and technical support. Infinite Campus beat out six different candidates, including Skyward in nearly every category. The process by which the scores were awarded isn't detailed, and the Department of Public Instruction said they won't comment on the process.

Much more on Infinite Campus, here.

The Wisconsin DPI's scorecard (200K PDF).

Posted by Jim Zellmer at February 17, 2013 1:23 AM
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