Earlier this week, The Toronto Sun reported the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) had a contract in hand to spend over $5 million in the latest iPhones, which consisted of the latest iPhone 8, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models for staff.
As per the Toronto Sun:
According to a copy of the request for proposals (RFP) sent to companies looking to bid, the board wanted a whole new wireless contract for voice, data and text services complete with the new handsets.
The RFP showed the board was looking to purchase more than 4,000 brand new iPhones for administrators, the vast majority of them the high-end iPhone XS or XS Max valued at as much as $1,519 per handset.
In total, it called for 810 iPhone 8 models and 3,255 iPhone XS or XS Max. The total value for the handsets alone would have been between $5.1 and $5.6 million.
The RFP also called for each iPhone to include accessories such as cases and car chargers.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford shared the story on Twitter, saying “No waste at school boards? The Toronto District School Board wanted to buy nearly 4000 of the newest, most expensive iPhones all at once. While planning to spend over $5 million on iPhones, they wanted parents to believe they have no money for classrooms, repairs or teachers.”
TDSB Chair Robin Pilkey shot back at The Toronto Sun and Premier Ford, saying “It is pretty clear that both the Toronto Sun and the government were wrong to suggest that the TDSB would have paid more than $5 million for cell phones if it had continued with the cell phone RFP process. The Ministry in particular would have known that is a ridiculous assertion.”
According to the TDSB, they cancelled the iPhone RFP on May 30, one day before the Toronto Sun contacted them about the RFP in question.
According to Pilkey, she says if the TDSB went ahead with the iPhone purchase, the retail price of $5 million would not be the price paid, but “costs would have been closer to one quarter of that price (due to competitive privacy concerns, we are unable to quote the final submitted bid discount.)”
Pilkey added, “the TDSB received an 80 percent discount off the retail price for hardware in its 2017 contract with Bell,” and “bids were in line with the Ministry’s vendor of record pricing for hardware,” which is a discount of over 50 percent.
Ontario Education Minister Lisa Thompson says the plan was cancelled only because the TDSB got caught, saying, “I am absolutely appalled,” adding, “To have a school board choose to buy the top-of-the-line iPhones for their administration team is absolutely unacceptable in today’s fiscal reality,” reported CTV News.
“To streamline its operations the board is standardizing on the iOS platform,” noted a TDSB document obtained by CTV News. TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird said, “While the board is no longer seeking to upgrade cell phones at this time, the intent of buying newer technology would be to ensure a longer usable lifespan.”