Schools refuse cell-tower offer

Tuesday, February 15, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 1:55 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Columbia School Board turned down a proposed contract between Cingular Wireless and Columbia Public Schools for a cellular tower at West Boulevard Elementary School at its meeting Monday night.

Board member Elton Fay motioned to deny consideration of the contract and said he had concerns about leasing school property to private companies and the safety of cell phone towers.

“I’m concerned that we’re tying up school grounds for private commercial enterprise,” he said.

Research about cell-phone-related danger has been somewhat inconclusive, Fay said, and he added that he doesn’t think the risks involved are worth taking.

“One brain tumor would cost more money than the district gets in 20 years,” he said.

Cingular approached the district about leasing the property, which would have brought in $16,800 each year with a 10-year leasing term. The proposed contract also included the option of two five-year renewals.

Board member Don Ludwig said that potential revenue would be small in relation to the budget the district has.

Other members said that the space could be used in more productive ways and that a partnership with one company could lead to others wanting to do the same thing.

The board then voted to deny the motion further consideration.

Dennis Walker, the district’s architect, also spoke about plans for summer construction and repairs at schools. At all levels, planned repairs focus on window replacement and bathroom refurbishing.

The board also renewed a contract for one year with First Student Inc., which provides morning and afternoon bus service for the district.

Heather Myers and Kimberly Devorss, elementary school teachers in Columbia, were recognized for receiving their national board certification. They join 34 other Columbia educators who have gone through the process.

Myers is a first-grade teacher at Cedar Ridge Elementary school, and Devorss is a second-grade teacher at Paxton Keeley Elementary school. National board certification is a program to develop higher excellence in teaching.

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