Financially challenged Utah schools are making deals with wireless phone companies to allow them to place antennas on top of the school buildings in exchange for up to $7,000 per school.
Though this is a mere drop in the bucket for a yearly school budget, every penny counts in the state that spends the least per student in the country. “If I were a local school principal, I’d love to have a building that made $6,000 a year,” remarked Robert Day, assistant superintendent for auxiliary services in the Jordan School District.
In exchange for paying the schools a fee, companies like Sprint, Voice Stream Wireless, and US West get to place their antennas in a central location to prevent reception gaps. “It’s a way for us to reach residential areas without having to put up a tower in the neighborhood. Aesthetically, it’s more pleasing,” said Michael Frandsen, US West spokesman. Some antennas can be disguised as flagpoles or stadium lights in order to blend in more, he said.
The money paid to schools for allowing transmitters on their property goes “into the total pot used to pay teachers, buy textbooks, and everything else,” said district business administrator Gary Harmer. School administrators also hope to use the extra cash to alleviate fund-raising pressure and buy computers.