Cedar Rapids School District Considers Adding Cell Tower to Elementary Building
By Jill Kasparie, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – An elementary school could soon have a new addition.
The district is deciding whether to put a new cell tower on top of Johnson Elementary School. That's on the southeast side of the city at 355 18th St. SE.
School leaders said Verizon contacted the district about installing a new tower on the roof. According to the district, it won't just be a boost to Verizon users but it'll also boost the budget.
"Verizon has agreed to pay us $25,000 a year for this lease,” said Cedar Rapids Community School District Buildings and Grounds Manager Rob Kleinsmith.
Cedar Rapids School leaders are in the middle of making a deal with Verizon Wireless. The company wants to lease some rooftop property for the cell tower. Kleinsmith said there are some pros and cons.
"Obviously the con is having to work around the cell tower. There are some safety precautions that have to take place with them. The pros are it's a funding source. Obviously it's great to have the funding that is being provided by the cell tower people for our general fund,” Kleinsmith said.
The plan is designed so that people wouldn't really notice the tower. The transmitters will sit behind a wall on the roof and other mechanical equipment will sit behind a similar structure on the ground.
On this fall day at Johnson Elementary, the parents we spoke with didn't object.
"It’s not bothering the kids [or] interfering with their ability to learn, is good for the school district,” said Johnson Elementary Parent Hayley Kalous.
"I think anything to benefit the kids’ education, anything that would benefit the school as far as financially,” said Johnson Elementary Parent Amber Mason.
Three other cell towers currently sit on school property, one at both Wilson and Roosevelt Schools and a bigger one at Kingston Stadium. In times of tight budgets, Kleinsmith said the cell tower money from all four would add up.
"It's about $75,000 a year,” Kleinsmith said. “So, [it’s] roughly about a teacher and a half a year.”
Some cell tower critics warn that tower emissions are unhealthy. The district said Verizon did an independent study on the Johnson School sit, and it is confident the tower would be a safe addition.
The district can't do anything without holding a public hearing, and the school board needs to vote on the issue. That's scheduled to happen Monday, Oct. 28.
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