Friday, July 14, 2017

Cell Towers At Schools: Godsend Or God-Awful? : NPR Ed : NPR

Cell Towers At Schools: Godsend Or God-Awful? : NPR Ed : NPR:

Cell Towers At Schools: Godsend Or God-Awful?

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School districts — hard up for cash — are turning to an unlikely source of revenue: cell towers. The multistory metal giants are cropping up on school grounds in Chicago, Milpitas, Calif., Collier County, Fla. and many other places across the country.
The big reason: money. As education budgets dwindle, districts are forming partnerships with telecom companies to allow use of their land in exchange for some of the profits.
Last year, for example, cell towers on seven school sites generated $112,139 in revenue for the schools in Prince George's County, Md., just outside Washington, D.C.
Why school property?
"The places where service is needed the most are places where people live as well as where people work," explains Len Forkas, founder of Milestone Communications, which partners with telecom companies and school districts, like Prince George's, to build towers and share revenue. "There are very few locations in residential communities where the properties are large enough."
One place where there is enough space: high schools. Most campuses are 20-40 acres, Forkas says, offering ample room for cell towers.
As enticing as these arrangements are, they also come with controversy.
"There are a growing number of parents that are concerned about selling out our school grounds to telecom companies," says Lisa Cline of Gaithersburg, Md.
Cline, a PTA president who's fighting cell tower construction in Montgomery County — which neighbors Prince George's — is motivated by personal tragedy.
Her daughter, Chloe, got sick and passed away when she was one-and-a-half years old. "It seemed so random, a concept I have a hard time grasping," Cline says. "I tend to Cell Towers At Schools: Godsend Or God-Awful? : NPR Ed : NPR:

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