More schools hosting cell phone towers


Mar 11, 2001
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More schools hosting cell phone towers

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Take a closer look: That flagpole in the local school yard may be pulling double duty as a cell phone tower. A growing number of Michigan school districts are leasing space to cell phone companies on which to build the towers. Sometimes the towers double as flagpoles or the companies will install relay antennas on stadium lights.

Both sides benefit from such an arrangement. A district gets more money without hitting up taxpayers and a company gets a cell tower without having to hear from homeowners opposed to building it next to them.

"It's not like you're going to use this money to balance the budget, but it doesn't hurt," Tim Raymer, assistant superintendent of Grandville schools, told The Grand Rapids Press for a story Thursday. The school district has towers near its middle school and bus garage.

"If you can find a place that's not in a residential area, it works out well for everyone," Raymer said. "Hey, school districts use cell phones, too."

Kentwood and Rockford are among the school districts that either have cell towers or will soon have them. The Grand Rapids district is considering a deal, but administrators said they have taken only a preliminary look.

Rockford Superintendent Michael Shibler said installing a cell tower near a water tower behind the high school is a "no-brainer."

The district expects to receive between $25,000 and $30,000 per year in rent from VoiceStream Wireless. Plainfield Township and the school board have approved the lease agreement, but the company is delaying installation until the economy improves.

"We're always looking to raise money," Shibler said. "And this doesn't cost us anything, and it's a long-term arrangement."

In Kentwood, the district allowed Nextel to install a 150-foot tower near the bus garage and allowed CenturyTel to add an antenna to the tower. It is considering a deal with Sprint to add another antenna.

Assistant Superintendent Stephen Zakem said the district gets $950 per month from Nextel, $450 monthly from CenturyTel, and would get an additional $450 monthly from Sprint.

"It works if you have the right space," he said. "We were able to find a fairly small area where we were doing nothing but growing weeds. The nearest houses are several thousand feet away."

Location could be the sticking point in Grand Rapids, said Ben Emdin, the school district's chief of operations.

"There are some real pros and cons," Emdin said. "It would have to be in the right place. I don't think too many of our people would want to look out and see one of those towers."

Some districts have rejected the cash. Gerald Hunsburger, associate superintendent for the Kent Intermediate School District, said the district has been approached several times.

He said administrators are not sure what their plans are for all the district's property, and once a tower is installed, he does not think it would be easy to move.

"It just wasn't right for us," Hunsburger said. "A lot of these companies are looking for long-term commitments. That's a long time to lock up land that you're not sure how you're going to use."


Well-known member
Oct 2, 2001
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I've been putting in a lot of sites at churches also!!


Mar 12, 2001
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Personally, while I enjoy the benefits of uninterrupted cell coverage, there are installations out there that push the limits of HF exposure.  Many people believe that a cell site is safe if it meets the 50' elevation minimum.  However, this is not always the case if controlled and uncontrolled occupancy is present at the same, or near, elevation as the transceivers.  Each unit has a radiating pattern and power rating.  The units are not directional.  Without proper shielding, exposure may be measured over a pattern greater than 180­°.  In addition, the cumulative affect at the site must be weighed in the exposure analysis.  

But hey, what do I know?  I'm sure that city council member, building owner, church leader, school district; who is receiving a fee for land usage, is much more aware of these issues than I.  Not trashing the industry.  Just one example of where some people are focusing on a capatalistic opportunity (which is fine - that's what the US economy is about) but forgetting their moral obligation to protect the well being of their fellow man.

"Stop on a dime, give me 5¢,I'll give you 3¢ change."

(Edited by Marty at 10:36 am on July 27, 2002)

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