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Evers defends single vendor for Student Information Software

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WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) -  Should Wisconsin have a single source of software for school district student information? State Superintendent Tony Evers says yes. “The Governor supported it, and frankly, I supported it as did the majority of the Legislature, and basically there’s a couple of reasons. One is to make sure that we have the most efficient system possible, and second of all, if you have one vendor you’re likely to have a lower cost than two so from a taxpayer’s point of view, I think it’s critical.”

Thirteen days ago, Wisconsin announced the winning bid for the statewide package would go to Minnesota based Infinite Campus and not Stevens Point based Skyward. That decision has several business and political leaders questioning Governor Walker, Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch, and Dr. Evers. Evers says, “I get it. That issue of the people in the Stevens Point area around this particular issue. If I had my magic wand, it would be great if every Wisconsin company would win these bids. The fact of the matter is state law is very specific on this issue. There’s very, very solid and good reasons to have these very solid criteria people evaluate, and where they have their business and what state they’re from cannot be part of that.”

Skyward has announced their intent to appeal the state’s decision by this Friday’s deadline. Evers says he looks forward to reviewing Skyward’s appeal. “My goal is to ensure that we have a process that’s fair to them, that they’re adequately heard about what their grievances are around this process, and we’ll make a decision going forward from there.”

There has been much discussion about the real cost for school districts to convert to a different software and train their staff to use it. There is a great difference of opinion on what those costs will be. Evers says the budgeted amount should be adequate. “When the state looked at this as being the amount of money needed, that includes money for conversion. That includes money for training of staff. We believe there’s likely adequate resources to make that happen.”

Eau Claire officials have indicated their conversion costs would be around $350,000. Stevens Point Superintendent Attila Wedinger says their district estimates the conversion and training costs are closer to $440,000. The state’s conversion funding formula would only pay the district $29,000 over five years.

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