The Greater Victoria School District budgeted for $135,000 in charges from cellular telephones in 2010, including data and airtime plans for 105 Blackberries and five iPhones supplied for administrative staff.
Every principal, some vice-principals and select administrative staff are given the phones to stay within reach, said School District 61 secretary-treasurer George Ambeault.
“It’s invaluable to be able to contact a principal or the superintendent,” he said. “But you have to put a value on (the ability) as well.”
District smartphones usually come at a $100 to $200 initial cost, followed by $20 monthly in data usage and $40 in airtime. Other district employees, from job site foremen to maintenance workers and after-hours custodians, are also given cell phones for voice calls.
Ambeault compared the total bill to the cost of two or three staff members, depending on the positions, adding that it may not reflect all cellphones purchased district-wide, given that individual schools may purchase phones with cash budgeted for office supplies.