New cell towers could come to Palm Beach County school properties

School board tackles issue this month

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - Facing a $52 million budget shortfall for the 2012-2013 school year, the Palm Beach County School District is looking to add more cellular telephone towers. 

Cell phone towers began popping up on school district properties back in 1994. There are currently ten towers on district property countywide.

Kristen Garrison is director of the district's Planning and Real Estate Services Department. A current ban on cell towers, originally put in place in 1997 because of health and other concerns, could be lifted. Lifting that moratorium, either temporarily or permanently, would allow the district to look for new tower locations. 

"If we add any additional cell phone towers they would be what we call 'stealth towers.' Those are the ones that are less visible," said Garrison.

Allowing cellular carriers to lease school land for the towers does help the district, which projects that the current 10 towers could bring in about $214,000 in 2012 and more $220,400 in 2013. The district is also looking into the incredible growth of cell phone use. Some believe that more cell phone towers could mean more dollars coming into the district in the long-term.

"I don't understand it. I don't know why they would do that," said Evern Williams, who has five grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren, most of whom attending Palm Beach County schools. 

Williams is weary of any additional cell towers near her family's schools.

"They already have 10, so usually the rest will follow," she said.

The district said that safety is a top priority and that the public will be able to weigh in before any plan is finalized.  A school board workshop concerning the possible addition of cell phone towers on district properties has been postponed until the afternoon of Jan. 25 at district headquarters. 

A recent presentation prepared by the district's Planning and Real Estate Services Department can be found by clicking here .

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