Cell Towers At Schools

July 19, 2017

Reprinted from NPR

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.

Len Forkas says his company provides a public service by expanding wireless coverage and giving money back to schools.