The Manassas Park School Board on Monday hired a marketing company to look for cell phone providers who want to expand their coverage areas by building cell phone towers on city school campuses.
The school board unanimously approved an agreement with Milestone Communication that gives them the power to solicit offers on behalf of the district. Putting new towers on school property would improve cell phone reception for residents and could also generate other benefits for the district, said Brenda Foster, board vice-chairman.
“The company will look for service providers who want to plug up holes in their coverage areas,” Foster said. “This can be a good deal.”
Any construction on school grounds would have to be tastefully done and the companies would be required to hide their towers and equipment behind an attractive façade, like a fake tree or within a football stadium light tower, Foster said. One company recently concealed a cell tower within a giant pencil that was constructed on a school campus, Foster said.
“This is a fantastic opportunity,” board member Fran D. Kassinger said. “It can expand (school) safety and provide additional opportunities for all of us.”
In other business, the board unanimously approved a request for about $420,000 in federal assistance that is annually distributed to schools that enroll large proportions of poor or underserved students. The funding will be used to improve classroom instruction for all four of the district schools, said Dr. Virginia "Ginny" Bowerman, district director of literacy/federal programs. About 56 percent of the district’s students are considered disadvantaged and 26 percent are Limited English Proficient (LEP) students, Bowerman said.
Specifically, the board is asking for $270,000 in Title I funding to improve basic instruction, $60,000 to reduce classroom size at Cougar Elementary School and $89,000 to enhance language instruction for LEP students, Bowerman said.
With this request, the district is seeking slightly more federal assistance than last year.