Boone County Schools, like many other public schools, are always seeking additional revenue streams, and they recently struck a deal with a cell tower company that should bring in some extra cash.
In an agreement with Arcadia Towers of Milford, Ohio, the company can market space on school property where they hope to build cell phone towers with space rented to various cell carriers who need additional locations in those areas. The original cost of building such towers would be borne by Arcadia, with rental fees then split between Arcadia and the schools.
“There is no set amount of money on what the cell tower deal is worth,” said assistant Boone County School superintendent Eric McArtor. “That depends on the number of carriers that Arcadia can work with and if the board approves the towers for any of our properties in the next step of the process. It is very hard to predict that over a long period of time.”
John Rolander, one of the co-founders and chief development officer of Arcadia Towers said, “It is possible that such a deal, over time, could reach into seven figures for the schools.”
According to Rolander, beyond the potential income is the additional benefit of enhanced public safety. By having cell towers near schools, a better cell signal can be provided to the interior of school buildings on the property.
In the case of an emergency, the stronger signal could be very important. Schools are typically situated in residential areas where change to zoning allowing the construction of cell towers is more difficult. Working with the schools makes the likelihood of obtaining zoning approvals less difficult, which appeals to Arcadia Towers.
“This agreement is to allow Arcadia to market the space,” said Corey Gamm, with the Boone County School’s Adams Law legal counsel who brokered the deal. “Once built, the school would get an additional 25% of the rental fees with Arcadia getting 75%.”
The board assured parents that this is simply an agreement to market the space. There will be another point at which any specific school locations for such towers will come back to the board for approval and can be rejected by the board for any reason. Access to any towers would be strictly controlled to protect students and school structures.
“There are possibilities for using towers for more than holding cell phone elements,” Gamm said.
In some communities, they can be used to hold lights for sports fields, some are even disguised as trees to blend into the landscape.
Arcadia Towers website describes the company as Your “All of the Above” Cell Tower Company and lists a division specifically for schools who are willing to allow school property to be used for cell towers.