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Ontario Failed to Renew Its Online Learning Subscriptions. It Cost Toronto Schools Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars.

“This would affect all boards across Ontario”

Although Doug Ford’s government is a big fan of online learning, his government apparently forgot to renew its online textbook and learning program subscriptions — ahead of this year’s COVID-19 school reopenings.

Over the weekend, the Hamilton Spectator noted teachers had discovered that Ontario’s Ministry of Education allowed subscriptions to a number of online learning programs to expire.

In fact, it looks like subscriptions could be set to expire province-wide.

Norm Di Pasquale, a Toronto Catholic District School Board trustee, said that “everything” from the Ontario Software Acquisition Program Advisory Committee — which includes encyclopedias, virtual math apps, virtual books, virtual science labs, and more — appears set to expire this year.

“This was an Ontario-wide central purchasing initiative,” Di Pasquale told PressProgress. “This would affect all boards across Ontario.”

A spokesperson for the TCDSB confirmed to PressProgress that “the Ministry used to secure the applications for the province. As of June 2020, most contracts have expired depending on when the contract ended.”

“The Ministry in turn provided funds for Boards to use to offset costs of securing their own licenses,” the TCDSB spokesperson added.

Di Pasquale told PressProgress that the TCDSB has been forced to renew its own subscriptions.

According to the board’s most-recent procurement report, that includes $120,500 to resubscribe to social studies textbooks published by Nelson, plus $84,500 to resubscribe to the teaching app MathUP, and another $112,000 for Gizmos special education, math and science licenses.

Ontario’s Ministry of Education did not respond to multiple requests for comment from PressProgress.

 

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PressProgress is an award-winning non-profit news organization focused on uncovering and unpacking the news through original investigative and explanatory journalism.

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