Roofs for Sale

October 13, 2008 at 11:35 pm Leave a comment

Did you know that many CPS schools are “selling” their roof space to cell phone companies in exchange for putting up cell phone towers?  Schools that are offered this opportunity can earn $24,000 per antenna, with a typical offer of up to three per school.  That is some serious money for schools that are getting minimal funding from the city.   Supposedly there are over 100 schools that now have cell antennas on their roofs including Bell and Bateman on the north side.   The cell companies need to fill in their dead zones and schools often have the highest roof in residential neighborhoods. 

The trouble, of course, is the nagging questions of whether these antennas are causing a health risk to the students and teachers who spent all day every day in the buildings.  You can search the Internet until eternity and find “research” that supports both sides.  The American Cancer Society says there is no theoretical reason why a cell antenna should cause health problems.  But we live in reality, not theory.  The antennas DO emit microwaves. The questions is whether prolonged exposure to these waves affect the human body.  There has been no long term definitive study that proves either safety or danger.

So what is a school to do?  Making up for $72K through fund-raising is daunting, if not impossible.  But if a kid in a school gets seriously ill a couple years after the antenna goes up, who wants to be left wondering if their decision was part of the cause?  On the other hand, these microwaves are in tons of products are us every day and if the phone companies don’t get their antennas on the schools, chances are they’ll find some other building nearby who is eager for the money (so the microwaves will be nearby anyhow.)  Its easy to argue each side.

The guy from CPS who brokers these deals is an impressive smooth-talker but left me on the defensive based on two things from his pitch that reminded me of a late night infomercial:

  • The school needed to “act quickly” so they wouldn’t lose the opportunity.
  • He would provide the research about safety only after we made an official expression of interest.

Any comments are appreciated.  I think only people in the city with kids in CPS can really understand a school’s desperate need for money.

Entry filed under: CPS.

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