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Local leaders urge Skyward to continue battling the state

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STEVENS POINT, WI (WSAU) -  Supporters of Skyward gathered Friday to speak against the Department of Public Instruction’s decision to deny the software maker’s appeal.

The Department of Public Instruction awarded Infinite Campus the contract for a statewide student information computer software system February 1st. Skyward believes the scoring of the bids was improperly done, and argues there are several problems with the DPI’s process.

Democratic State Representatives Katrina Shankland, Amy Sue Vruwink, Portage County Executive Patty Dreier, and Stevens Point Mayor Andrew Halverson all urged Skyward and it’s supporters to call upon Governor Scott Walker, Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch, Assembly Speaker Robin Voss, and Majority Leader Scott Suder to advance Assembly Bill 60 and Senate Bill 54. Shankland says, “We need you to mobilize and join the fight.” and added that if the legislative committees won’t give the bill a hearing, they can schedule their own hearing, much like the Democrats did recently with the Governor’s budget proposal when the Joint Finance Committee scheduled four total hearings.

The two pieces of legislation are currently buried in committees, and are not likely to get discussion, let alone a hearing or a vote.  Representative Tyler August and Senator Luther Olsen chair the two committees.

Shankland says this is about saving a lot of family supporting jobs, and should not be a Democrat or Republican issue. Shankland and Vruwink were critical of most Republicans for doing nothing to eliminate a single source monopoly and return to a multi-vendor system allowing schools to choose a student information system on the free market. Shankland says she doesn’t understand how they could brag about eliminating a single vendor for health benefits saving the Appleton schools millions of dollars while creating the same expensive problem with the software contract.

Not all Republicans are quietly sitting on the sidelines. Representative John Spiros of Marshfield and Scott Klug of Rome support the multi-vendor free market approach in AB60 and SB54. Klug has gone a step further, asking the Joint Finance Committee to defund the single-source student information system’s contract.

Portage County Republican Party Chairman Pat Testin says the county party has passed a resolution supporting Skyward and elimination of the single-source vendor system. He says Wood County’s committee is considering it as well.

The Republican State Convention is underway this weekend in Rothschild. Testin says there is no resolution on the convention agenda that addresses this issue, but given the chance, he will try to get his colleagues to understand how serious this problem is and seek support from the other county delegates. Testin says the right thing to do is let the schools choose from the open market by eliminating the monopoly that is currently the law. He also has concerns about possible conflicts of interest in Madison. That’s because Senator Luther Olsen, who has stalled the Shankland-Lassa bill in committee, is married to the person in charge of a CESA district... and CESA has been a long time sales agent for Infinite Campus. Kurt Kiefer at the Department of Public Instruction also has past ties with Infinite Campus.

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