Weninger Asks Districts to Rally Troops, Protest DOA Decision
Weninger: “To quote a famous baseball player, ‘it isn’t over until it’s over’. Well, it isn’t over”
By Brandi Makuski
School Superintendent Attila Weninger on Friday asked school boards and district superintendents across the state to stand together in an effort to save Skyward.
Weninger hosted, along with Board President Dwight Stevens and other community leaders, a meeting of several Skyward- using districts from across the state to discuss a potential plan of action in keeping their current student information system (SSIS) vendor in the face of a recent state decision to switch over to Infinite Campus from Minnesota.
“I want to make sure each of us has the same accurate information on the SSIS process,” Weninger said, adding officials from Skyward were on hand to answer questions on the appeal process.
“We also want to determine if there’s a coalition of districts willing to take individual and/or collective action,” he added. “I think the decision that’s about to be made will affect us financially well into the future,” Weninger said.
Portage County Executive Patty Dreier was on hand to explain the rubric- a system of scoring performance standards- used during the selection process between Infinite Campus and Skyward.
“I just don’t know how they came up with some of these numbers,” Dreier said. “It’s time to stand up, but also to lean on and ensure a fair process.”
Board President Dwight Stevens said he was familiar with the politics that went into making decisions like this and he didn’t like them.
“There’s always a hunger among state agencies for uniformity and gathering of the ultimate of all information, including your date of birth, your age, your weight, and all the things you don’t want them to know about,” Stevens said.
“They’re very hungry for information and so I see the move towards a single source here as something that runs counter to my best judgment. That kind of efficiency can be created by an autocracy. But we are not into that- we are a free enterprise.”
Weninger compiled information for districts which included copies of two recent bills created by Wisconsin legislators prompting a multi-vendor system, as well as a list of questions district officials should ask during face- to- face meetings with legislators.
“If you show them you are aware of these bills, and you meet with them in person rather that over email or telephone, that might make all the difference,” he said.
Weninger also encouraged districts to reach out to all sources of the media and neighboring Skyward users to discuss what he called “a steam- roller coming” which could affect thousands of districts’ finances. He also asked leaders to show their local IT departments the cost analysis performed by Skyward to ensure the estimated costs to switch vendors were accurate.
Weninger also said state districts should be prepared for the worst case scenario of Skyward’s appeal being turned down.
“At that point, we have to ask ourselves, ‘Now what?’ In the State of Maine, when this occurred, Infinite Campus was the single vendor chosen. And a number of districts stood up and said, ‘We refuse. We’re not going to do that- it’s going to cost too much, it’s going to change too much.’ And the state reversed itself and went to a multi- vendor (system),” Weninger said.
“As a collective group of districts we need to ask ourselves; if in the end Infinite Campus remains as the single vendor, what do we do? I think it’s a moment in time where I think some courage probably will be necessary. Everything we need to make a difference is right here in this room.”