As chairman John Lesinski informed the small crowd at Tuesday night’s meeting (July 8), the Rappahannock County School Board has been offered a deal by Community Wireless Structures, an internet provider specializing in rural areas, to place a monopole cell phone tower on high school property.
The proposal, Lesinski said, includes a 10-year lease, with up to four additional 10-year renewals. Lesinski said Community Wireless is also requesting up to 24 months to secure carriers. Unlike the major cell phone companies, Community Wireless is not an exclusive carrier; Lesinski said the company would approach major carriers like Verizon, Sprint and AT&T about carrying their signals if the lease is approved.
Rappahannock isn’t the only county considering a cell phone tower on school property; similar measures were considered recently in several Maryland counties, including Montgomery and Anne Arundel, where the efforts were abandoned after parents and others voiced concerns over risks to children’s health, including exposure to radio-frequency radiation.
Parents in Prince George’s County are currently protesting the school board’s decision to allow private organization Milestone Communications to build towers on several middle and elementary school properties — a similar situation to the one Rappahannock is now facing.
Community Wireless will be making its pitch, formally and publicly, at 7 p.m. Tuesday (July 15) in the high school band room. The meeting is open to all and will include a public comment period. For more information on Community Wireless, visit cwgo.com.
Lesinski also confirmed Tuesday that the board formally renewed the contract of Rappahannock County Public Schools superintendent Donna Matthews for another three years.
Most of Rappahannock’s past superintendents received three- or four-year initial contracts. However, at the suggestion of the search team the school division employed to help locate another superintendent in the wake of former superintendent Aldridge Boone’s resignation, the board chose to only offer Matthews a two-year deal.
Except for Boone, recent past RCPS superintendents typically had their contracts renewed in three- to four-year intervals. The contract with Matthews runs through June 30, 2017. The terms of the contract were not available before Wednesday’s press deadline; the school budget on the RCPS website lists the superintendent’s salary at $125,353 for the 2014-2015 school year.
— Matt Wingfield