SUSD’s board will vote tonight on whether or not to spend close to $2 million (not from the general fund) to buy 4,500 new laptop computers from Hewlett-Packard. This would put seven new computers in every K-5 classroom in the district. Superintendent Steve Lowder and Chief Technology Officer Robert Torress said SUSD chose the Windows-based computers over Apple’s iPad for reasons of compatibility, price and warranty length.
The decision to go with Windows was made by the administration. This week, Apple tried a last-ditch effort to get SUSD’s business — by going around the administration and appealing to the seven board members. The trustees received the following email this week:
Madam President, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Board,
As you are aware, at the invitation by Caldwell Flores Winters, Superintendent Lowder and Chief Technology Officer Robert Torres attended an Executive Briefing at Apple’s corporate headquarters in Cupertino on Friday August 24. It was there that Dr. Lowder stated that Stockton USD was pursuing a mobile technology initiative requiring 4,500 mobile devices across K-5 classrooms district-wide. Primary points of discussion centered around iPad in education. Dr. Lowder informed the group that Apple wasn’t under consideration due to price, delivery and compatibility. Upon conclusion of the Briefing, Dr. Lower indicated a positive interest in learning more about Apple’s offerings (product, professional and financial services and professional development) then instructed us to work directly with Mr. Torres to further evaluate the district’s technological requirements.
The following Wednesday August 29, we scheduled a visit between our Senior Systems Engineer James Brennan, Technical Development Executive Frank Callaham and Mr. Torres to further discuss the district’s technical concerns and how Apple would assist in such a large strategic deployment. Mr. Callaham’s experience in leading similarly large deployments in San Diego USD (28,000 iPads), Los Angeles USD (10,000+ iPads) and Clark County School District (10,000+ iPads) brought considerable expertise to the table during these discussions. We believe this meeting was successful in covering the majority of Mr. Torres’ technological concerns regarding the iPad as an educational solution for Stockton USD. At the conclusion of this meeting, Mr. Torres requested that Apple deliver a proposal to meet the district’s requirements.
Last Tuesday, September 4, I accompanied Stockton USD’s Account Executive Mark Rand and secured a 30-minute meeting with Mr. Torres to discuss our proposal. We presented two cash purchase options and two leasing solutions and were informed that the district was not interested in Apple’s financial services offerings. Upon offering to provide a more detailed Executive Summary to Mr. Torres, he declined stating all that was required was Apple’s pricing and delivery. This is somewhat surprising, considering the district’s intent to provide $2.4M worth of technology into students’ hands with such an aggressive delivery. Both of which Apple can meet. We left the meeting convinced that despite our efforts, the decision was a foregone conclusion.
Mr. Torres called Mr. Rand that Friday, and it was clear to us that Mr. Torres’s recommendation to the board would favor the current incumbent provider of technology for the district. With current Race To The Top initiatives in progress, it is absolutely imperative that technology decisions made today set a positive tone and provide a repeatable, scalable solution for your district going forward. The timing of the Board Meeting also occurs the day before Apple’s much publicized keynote presentation in San Francisco September 12. Coincidentally, Dr. Lowder has a confirmed meeting with Development Executive Katie Van Sluys two (2) day after the board meeting to discuss Apple’s Professional Development offerings.
I feel compelled to share with you the Executive Summary which would normally accompany quotations for large mobility deployments to aid due diligence for investments of this size. Please find attached Apple’s Executive Summary and our quotations for your convenience. If we can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us. Mr. Rand and/or myself will be in attendance at tomorrow’s board meeting as is Apple Education’s standard practice for all large customers.
The email included this attachment — one last bid from Apple to SUSD.