A creative but controversial plan by the Lansing (Mich.) School District to raise nearly $4 million for its technology programs is on the verge of collapsing. The district had hoped to lease school property to telecommunications companies for the construction of wireless PCS (personal communications services) towers, but residents’ fears have all but derailed the idea.
To control the spread of telecommunications towers throughout the city and also benefit the city’s schools, the city had proposed leasing a collection of 15 public sites to federal PCS license holders. Nine of those 15 sites were to be located on school property.
The leases would raise close to $4 million for the district’s technology programs, officials said. The district also hoped to negotiate a deal that would allow the schools to use the high-speed T-3 ground lines to the towers for their internet access.
Now six of those sites have been scrapped. Four sites at elementary schools were pulled from the plan in February when parents expressed concern about health hazards to their children from tower radio emissions. In July, two more sites were removed because of fears from neighboring hospitals that signals from the towers would interfere with their electronic devices.
“Since the three school sites left in the plan are so far apart, I don’t know what the interest of telecommunications companies would be,” said Judith Brown, director of information services for the district. “But the ball is in the city’s court, and we’ll see if they can come up with a solution.”