PTA Votes to Install New Cell Phone Tower

Because of recent parent opposition to building a cell phone tower on the grounds of Julius West MS, MCPS administrators are reluctant to approve the building of a tower at other schools such as RHSa��an issue discussed at the RHS PTA meeting Aug. 21.

The PTA voted in favor of putting a cell phone tower on the school’s property, but is having trouble receiving permission from the county. The cell phone “tower” would consist of a large box that would attach to the stadium flood lights. The RHS community would get better cell phone service, the cell phone tower’s company would have more people using their reception, and RHS would receive $5,000 to $10,000 from the company each year.

“I started off being a bit skeptical, because of the health reasons, but once all the evidence pointed to the evidence not being true, it sounded like a great idea,” PTA member and former president Dylan Presman said. “If it’s going to be bringing in thousands of dollars, why not?”

This skepticism stems from the negative reactions to cell phone towers going up in other schools in the county, namely Walt Whitman HS, Wootton HS and Julius West MS.

“I don’t see that happening for us right now. There seems to be a lot of negative publicity that MCPS is trying to avoid,” principal Billie-Jean Bensen said.

Putting cell phone towers on school property is a much-disputed topic in MCPS. In fact, some parents have formed a “Parent Coalition” to combat the proposals to put up towers. Many are worried that the towers cause serious health issues such as cancer, but recent studies shows that this is not the case.

“Our absolute first priority is the safety of the students,” Presman said. Research conducted by major organizations such as the American Cancer Society, the Federal Communications Commission and the World Health Organization concluded that there were no adverse health effects associated with close proximity to a cell phone tower, only with use of the cell phones themselves. In fact, the negative effects of using a phone decrease with closer proximity to a tower.

Once it was clear that health was not going to be an issue, RHS parents and teachers began to actively search for companies interested in installing and paying for a tower.

English teacher Sean Pang is excited about the possibility of getting the tower. “I think it’s a great idea. It helps us to use cell phones for more academic purposes a�� whether to set a poll or have the students send a quick text. It’s a different kind of engagement,” Pang said.