Thursday, June 9, 2011

What is the real reason T-mobile wants their towers at our schools?

Sent in by a DeKalb School Watch Reader (We have been contacted by a variety of groups highly concerned about this cell tower initiative. This is one of several requests to post information about the T-mobile proposal.)

My community would love to see some sort of request for the full details of the cell tower proposal by T-mobile that is being considered by the DeKalb County School Board. The more I think about it, the more I have realized that this proposal is about a lot more than we may think.

The objections of health and property values are valid, yet may only concern the limited few around the schools affected. What we have not grasped is that this is going on right now all over the country, with T-mobile just getting "no's" here and there and moving on quickly, then getting "yes's" and signing deals. Has anyone started putting the pieces together to question the significance of what they are doing and how it relates to the soon-tob-be finalized merger with AT&T?

There must be some limits imposed on technology when there is concern about its safety. We certainly cannot expect corporations, such as T-mobile, to be transparent about their true intentions. It is not up to them to protect children. Their job is to sell what they have been told to sell, especially in light of the fact that they know they will soon be part of a highly publicized, major merger that could potentially leave many of the T-mobile folks without jobs. They are selling at all costs now. AT&T is looking to own the airwaves in terms of roaming and thus prevent any smaller companies from becoming true competitors.

It is not the right time to be doing business with T-mobile. They do not care about their name or reputation because it will be mute within six months. And, AT&T does not need additional coverage in our area. Their motivation is clearly to “hog up the airwaves” so that they can lease space to other smaller competitors in an effort to monopolize the industry.

That will mean higher charges, less bargaining on corporate accounts, fewer deals, less mercy when it comes to every customer they have, including the residents in our community as well as the school system and county government.

Read “AT&T, T-Mobile Merger Bad News for Consumers” at

We need full disclouse of the details of the proposal being consider by DeKalb county. And, we need to encourage residents of all ages to show up for the July 11 meeting and work session when this vote will take place. State your case now, before the July meeting, while the topic is under consideration. When it is over, we will not have another chance to voice our opinions on this subject for 15 years, if the deal goes forth as planned.

This is big and we deserve to know why our school system would be in talks with a company that will no longer exist in a few months. If they are talking with AT&T via T-mobile, that could be considered collusion. Our accredidation is already in jepardy... we don't need more scandal especially if we ever hope to get a decent superintendent in here!

And, if they are really trying to do the right thing, then they should postpone the vote. We can wait till school in back in session so parents can attend a true discussion of the pro's and con's involved in the offer. We should wait until the AT&T / T-mobile merger is in place so we can negotiate with the true contract owner. And, we really should wait until our own leadership is in place by way of a new, experienced superintendent. A decision this big should not be made when there is no clear leadership to stand behind it.

I understand that our interim superintendent does not want to be considered for the job. Why, then, would she allow a vote this controversial to take place now? The first study involving children and cell phones is due for release in 2013. We can wait.

If you do not have enough information to make a solid decision, then err on the side of caution. The first rule of medicine is 'First, do no Harm.’ Wise words no matter what the profession.”
- Brian A. Kuzik MD, MSc, FRCP(C) Consulting Paediatrics, Royal Victoria Hospital of Barrie Assistant Professor of Paediatrics (Queen's University, University of Toronto)

T-mobile, or should I say AT&T, we know what you are trying to do and we will not allow it. Can you hear me now?"


Anonymous said...

This merger will either go through or it won't based on the FCC, not whether cell towers go up at our schools or not. If goes through, customers are all screwed anyway because AT&T and Verizon will be the only real service providers in the country with control over pricing and service. If it doesn't go through, at least the cell service will be better in our county. My hope is that it will blocked due to anti-trust concerns BUT, whether it goes through or doesn't, at least our children will have cell service at school in case of emergency and DCSS will get paid for improving that service for the rest of us. Lakeside (and the surrounding area) is a dead zone with regard to service and I'm sure people in that neighborhood would like it to improve. I don't believe that refusing these towers will have any substantial impact and am really surprised people care that much. Of course these companies want to "own the airwaves." That is obvious and has been true for 20 years which is why coverage percentage is touted on every commercial. It is a business and the goals are to be the biggest and most profitable. It would never have occurred to me that there were people that didn't realize this about the big cell companies, especially because these companies are so vocal about it.

Whether the merger goes through or not, T-Mobile will need the towers, we will need the cell service and DCSS will need the money. I don't envision being able to hold our small area over their head to get any real improvement to the deal.

The question is should you cut off your nose to spite your face? T-Mobile will walk away and we will get nothing and still have awful service in certain areas. This becomes increasingly likely if the merger does go through because with a monopoly who cares about taking care of the customer anymore?

As far as property values, I think having actual service in these areas would be far more important to a potential homebuyer/property values than being unable to make or receive a cell call at home just to avoid having to see a cell tower on top of a building which is already an eyesore itself. I am amazed that anyone views this as a "controversial" decision - and I usually complain about everything DCSS does.

teacher said...

If the board agrees to cell phone towers on school property, they have once again but financial gains in front of our children. Many of our children already spend the day in a school building with a leaking roof and mold in the ceiling tiles and god knows where else. The dust and growing things in the vents from the school that I used to work at were down right scary.

Frankly, it is NOT the school systems job to worry about cell phone service in our county. It IS their job to educate our children. They have difficulty doing that, so when they are good at their main job, than they can think about having cell phone towers on school property. Right now our board's attention should be focused on finding the best superintendent that they can find that will accept the job.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Mediatzar, I'm willing to listen but there is one thing missing from your post. Safety! I work in the business and can tell you there is a lot of research going on about the safety of the towers and the equipment that sits in the buildings underneath them.

I'm willing to consider something like this, but I need to have several different opinions about the safety.

One more thing, I think the majority of the folks around Lakeside would prefer to keep their neighborhoods void of cell towers. There have been numerous attempts over the years and I believe that every attempt went down in flames. Can't blame T-Mobile for trying, though I'm concerned about safety.

Anonymous said...

I originally had a whole paragraph on safety and the few studies that disagree with the majority on the safety issue around these towers but took it out because it made the post too long. If you read the two studies usually cited from other countries, at least one states something like "more research should be done because these results are at odds with the bulk of research on this subject." The illnesses are too common and the studies too small to connect directly to cell towers with any degree of certainty. The levels put out by cell towers are thousands of times lower than the federal standard so there are probably other things out there putting out more dangerous levels than we don't even know about. I understand the safety concerns but also realize that cell phones, cordless phones, microwaves, etc. that we use in our homes every day put out far more damaging levels of radiation than these towers do. Power lines are all around us and concern about those have been around forever. Unless all these people against these towers have given up the things we know put out more radiation at more dangerous frequencies, I don't get the resistance to these towers. As far as an eyesore, there is so much ugly stuff around, including the schools themselves and above ground power/telephone lines criss- crossing the streets, the idea they would detract from the aesthetic is hard to take. I couldn't tell you where any cell towers are (which tells you how noticeable they are) but they are around so they didn't all go up in flames. The Lakeside people cared so much about these towers that fewer than 10 people showed up for the meeting from what I heard and they were all in favor of the towers. I don't really care that much either way but it seems they will go up somewhere so why not let DCSS get paid for it so our children can reap the benefit instead of giving some other entity that money? I think the state of education in our schools is so bad, energy would be better directed to fixing those issues instead of fighting this. YMMV.

Anonymous said...

Follow the money!!

How much in dollars are we really talking about?
ATT/T-Mobile is choosing the school because it is (presently) the best financial and technical deal for them. If DCSS says No and ATT/T-Mobile really wants to put up a tower then they will go to a more expensive Plan B. Of course there is always Plan C.... do nothing.

Probable hangup at DCSS is who is going to personally benefit from this. Maybe some new high paid administrative positions "Director of Cellular Communications Liaison Staff" and the staff are being created. Some BOE member must have at least one more relative not already employed by the County or DCSS that needs a job and a pension

Anonymous said...

If anyone is interested in the number of cell towers currently in their area, you can type in your address at:

Regarding mediatzar's concerns that the kids might not have access to cell service in case of emergencies, there are actually 139 cell towers within a 4 mile radius of Lakeside High School. The nearest tower is .15 miles away and there are 3 new towers under construction. I counted 21 of the current towers and 1 of the "under construction" towers as belonging to AT&T/BellSouth/T-mobile. T-mobile has a 104 ft. tower that is only 1.78 miles away from the school. This list is just naming the tower owners. Remember, each tower has the capability to house multiple cell sites for a variety of different companies (called co-location). What the article was stating is that the coverage is not actually needed by T-mobile which is what they are stating as their reason for wanting the tower. AT&T wants to acquire more air space in order to lease it out to smaller companies so they can further profit. Since they cannot make the case for purchase of more towers, they are acquiring the towers via their purchase of T-mobile. So, T-mobile is making a last minute scramble to buy up as much as they can. This is not an attempt to provide better service. This is an attempt to form a monolopoly which is bad for everyone and has been the reason for deregulation of the industry in the past. No, you can't blame them for trying, but what is the benefit to the schools for helping them out with this plan? If the community is going to take the risk with the safety and health of their children, they must also be informed of why they are being asked to do so.

DCSS has not disclosed the terms of any proposal so that the pros and cons can be reasonably considered. Exactly how much money are we talking about? And, where will it go?

What was mentioned about other devices having similar radiation output may be true, but the difference is the amount of time that you are exposed to something like a phone or a microwave oven. A cell tower is non-stop, 24/7 radiation exposure. No studies have been done to calculate the effects of continous exposure and certainally no tests have been done like that for the effects on children because we have never exposed our children to 24/7 emissions before. Their bodies are still developing. Their skulls are smaller and thinner. Their risk is greater.

As far as my child using a cell phone for an emergency, she's 4 years old. She doesn't have a cell phone. I would hope that a teacher would be able to make a call from a land line in an emergency. Most of the schools in question are at elementary schools. And, our service at home via AT&T and our cell service via AT&T is just fine where I live.

And, finally, mediatzar, if you are truly looking at the business side of things ... would you honestly sign your name to a 15 year contract while you had no boss to approve the deal and the company you were negotiating with had already publically annonced that they would soon be bought out? Read, "T-mobile lease owners: sell now!"

And, aren't we all being foolish if we do not protest funds if they are not disclosed?

Fred said...

cherylpaulmiller, you mentioned there is no boss to approve this deal. You do realize the Board is considered the boss. They set the agenda for the meetings and probably asked this item be included after reviewing it with the legal team. A superintendent probably has little to do with this other than connecting the right parties together.

I agree with mediatzar in that most people are exposed to far more harmful radiation in their homes that what these towers will produce. At least the school system benefits get getting revenue from this. If there are concerns, perhaps a shorter term could be negotiated. I'm sure we aren't the first school district to consider this nor will be the last.

Cerebration said...

Question: Isn't giving the PTAs of the schools that will receive towers a $25,000 "donation" sort of a bribe? I'm not sure how much that differs from Sembler's $20,000 contribution to the Lakeside cheerleaders via Elaine Boyer, county commissioner, which appeared to be in order to garner favor in purchasing the Druid HIlls property.

Anonymous said...

Check out a school in Chicago where 30% of staff and students have come down with some kind of illness thought to be related to the cell tower nearby. Three kids have died.,0,7715148.story

No, I don't think of the school board as being "the boss." I was trying to put it into terms mediatzar would understand. What I'm simply saying is that we are not being given all the facts and there must be a reason for that.

"People" are exposed to far more harmful radiation in their homes... really? Do you stick your head inside your microwave and leave it on defrost 24 hours a day? Do you put your cordless or cell phone up against your head and duct tape it there? Would you try this voluntarily? Would you allow us to do this to your child?

Just because some people choose to take risks with their health, like someone who smokes, doesn't mean that I should be okay with that risk being taken with my child's health.

There is no device in anyone's home that gives off radiation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is no way to protect yourself from it, unlike we can with sunscreen to protect from UV rays of the sun.

You want to take risks, by all means, please do. But, don't try to profit by putting my child's safety in danger.

teacher said...

There was a study that just came out saying that cell phones near our heads are harmful. Imagine living/working under a cell phone tower.

My child's life is priceless, so no amount of money the companies could throw our way would entice me to say, put those cell phone towers up.

I agree with the poster that said this will require a new category of jobs to oversee the cell phone towers.

It all just stinks and once again, our kids are put last.

Kim Gokce said...

How about we approach Starbuck's about setting up a lease arrangement with them, instead. The footprint wouldn't be that much bigger and we'd all have somewhere convenient to gather and complain about DCSS leadership.

Kim Gokce said...

How about advertising and billboards? Yeah, that's it, inside and outside the school. We could call it NASCAR - Neighbors Against Simply Caring About the three R's

Sagamore 7 said...

That's funny, but sadly true.
Starbucks at 6:30?
Speaking of the three R's, at the board meeting last Monday, SCW said she wanted to upgrade the kitchen in her CULMINARY school.
Is that a medical or cooking program?
Tucker has a beautiful culinary facility that we have spent tons of cash that is sitting idle! No teachers, no classes, no cooking school! But we have a beautiful facility!
A topic for another day.

Dunwoody Dad said...

I interpreted the original article to complain about the lack of "full details" of a cell tower proposal, not whether cell towers themselves cause some sort of health and safety issue or whether t-mobile has some nefarious, "gotcha DCSS!" goal in mind. Read the opening sentence: "My community would love to see some sort of request for the full details of the cell tower proposal by T-mobile that is being considered by the DeKalb County School Board."

That said, I have to agree with mediatzar - radiation is all around us and found in just about every electronic device in a home/office/school - I'm being exposed right now as I type this message. The studies on cell tower radiation are inconclusive; if child safety is the issue, place the tower further away from the school building (since radiation levels drop significantly the further from the source). I'll also note that if you're truly concerned about your child's health, start by complaining about what is served in the lunchrooms and sold in vending machines. That seems to have a more direct impact than whether radiation may (or may not) affect the health of a child several hundred feet away or so. After all, our children shovel that, um, "stuff" directly into their bodies. Anyone looked at the sodium content?

But if the issue is openness of DCSS, then okay, I can see that. And I would also agree that DCSS shouldn't simply look at the rent per month dollar figure and say "sure, sounds good." I would think (hope?) the good folks at the Palace would negotiate better than that.

Cerebration said...

We've received a lot of emails on this subject and the concerns are varied. There are health concerns, concerns about a lack of conclusive research, concerns about aesthetics and property values (especially the one in Medlock, which also just had the school in the middle of their neighborhood closed), concerns about the money DCSS will take in and how it will be used, and concerns that T-Mobile may be serving as a preemptive strike for an AT&T monopoly.

Cerebration said...

Are you aware that the cell towers violate county building codes - but schools and churches are exempt - therefore the cell companies are hounding schools...

Fred said...


Would you consider the American Cancer Society a good reference? Below appears on their website when the question was posed about cell phone towers causing cancer.

"Some people have expressed concern that living, working, or going to school near a cell phone tower might increase the risk of cancer or other health problems. At this time, there is very little evidence to support this idea. In theory, there are some important points that would argue against cellular phone towers being able to cause cancer."

There is more information on this topic along with other agencies agreeing with this (i.e. EPA) at

Also, you provided a link about a lawsuit being filed. Any information regarding how it ended? It is always big news to file a lawsuit but you don't hear much when it is resolved.

Everyone will believe what they want to believe regardless of the data provided.

Cerebration said...

Here's another email on the subject -- the point here is why should it even be necessary to grovel for money from corporate interests? We have paid the money for education - they money is available.

We do not agree with the T-Mobile Deal.

We suggest the Board of Education put forth an united front to reclaim $30 million dollars of the over $100 million dollars the State of Georgia remove from our school system to redistribute to other school system in the name of "fair share tax". We simply can no longer afford to be a "donor county". In our opinion, taxes are the life and blood of any government agency. Our school system is bleeding to death thus unable to donate over $100 million dollars anymore. Our compromise is to reclaim 2.98 mills until the other school systems reach the 20 mill mandate.

Unfortunately, many of the parents in DeKalb County do not understand that we have overpaid the state for over ten years. Please help us get the word out. We need to develop an united front instead of fight against one another. We have asked to BOE the strive for $30 million dollars instead of the $30,000 per cell tower T-Mobile is offering.

FWIW - I can't disagree here. We have had literally tens of millions of DeKalb county tax dollars redistributed to "poor" and "rural" counties around the state in what's called "equalization". Ironically, Gwinnett has been a recipient of these redistributed funds! This is patently unfair to those of us in DeKalb paying such a high tax rate. In fact, even if we raised property taxes for schools, we would not see all of that money - as much of it would just get "redistributed" around the state.

Fred said...

Cerebration, let's not confuse these two issues. We need the legislature to change the school funding formulas not the Board of Education. We had that problem before T-Mobile asked about placing cell towers on school grounds.

What is the likelihood of a county that receives equilization dollars like Gwinnett voting to eliminate it? I believe this may require going to the courts to overturn this.

Everyone should look at the QBE funding formulas. They have not been adjusted since it was originally conceived in the
1980's. Think those in state want to properly fund schools based on 2011 actual costs?

Dekalbparent said...

The health question is legitimate, in my book, and deserves further research.

However, the issue of transparency is equally legitimate.

1) This deal is brought up in the summer, when people are distracted/absent/not so focused on school matters.

2) T-Mobile is acting like a company that anticipating acquisition. I recently researched customer opinions of the company, because I was considering changing cell phone plans. I checked 10 different sources, and they uniformly said that while T-Mobile had been quite satisfactory in terms of product and customer support, since the announcement of the possible acquisition, they were producing poorly functioning equipment and their customer service was poor to non-existent. This is a sign that the real deal here is with AT&T, not T-Mobile.

3) When the T-Mobile folks and a couple of Board reps met with Medlock neighborhood people a few weeks ago, the T-Mobile reps were not aware that Medlock had been closed. The Board had not told them. The Board reps made reference to using the Medlock property for a new 900-student school. Again, where is the transparency? Is DCSS thinking about putting the Fernbank replacement (mentioned in the recently unveiled plan) at Medlock? If so, why have they not said so? If not, why did the Board reps say that?

Where is the honesty here??

Dekalbparent said...

@Kim -

I like your plans.

A Starbucks at every school will keep the teachers there and will allow the middle- and high-school coffee drinkers to get their fuel conveniently. Also a great place for the community to gather to b!#ch and moan.

What about plastering all the school buses with ads like MARTA does?

Sponsorship of the stadiums. Both revenue and competition for which sponsor can trick out the stadium best.

Actually, sponsor the schools - how about SunTrust Tucker High School? Scientific Atlanta Arabia Mountain High? Newell-Rubbermaid Dunwoody High? CNN IB Elementary School.

And what high-end furniture company would love to sponsor the Palace?

Cerebration said...

Fred, I don't think the issues are confused, they are linked. The writer of the email is making the point that if DCSS were given ALL of the tax dollars we collect (and I might add, ALL of the QBE funding we are entitled to) that perhaps our board would not be salivating over this paltry amount of money from T-Mobile. It's the same thing with the state as with the county - when it comes to distributing funds for education, there is too small a pie for all of the need and we all end up fighting over the crumbs tossed our way.

Cerebration said...

Good thoughts Dekalbparent!

You did make me wonder if it might not be a better idea to place the cell towers at the stadiums?? At least no one is spending all day every day there - a once in a while exposure (if it's found to have an issue) certainly would have negligible health effects.

tim said...

What do DCSS bylaws say about getting competitive bids? There are some other concepts that stick out in Board Policy that do not match up with cell towers on school property. This was copied straight from the DCSS website.

Board Policy
Descriptor Code:EBL
Environmental Programs

Board Policy Descriptor Code: EBL

Environmentally Conscious School System

MISSION: To establish and maintain an environmentally conscious school system through curriculum and educational programs, green procurement measures, implementation of energy and water efficient operations policies and procedures and implementation of a system-wide recycling program.

The DeKalb County Board of Education believes that it functions for the best interest of education in the DeKalb County School System by supporting the establishment, maintenance and promotion of an environmental policy that is incorporated into the K-12 curricula, the maintenance and cleaning practices employed by system employees in all buildings and on all grounds, the procurement policy for all goods and services used by the system and establishment and support of a system-wide recycling program.

The Board supports the establishment and maintenance of an environmentally conscious school system through the following measures:

1.Ensure that all schools have adopted and implemented environmental curricula and consistently support same;
2.Continuous procurement and use of a utility analysis firm through the competitive bid process;
3.Adoption of comprehensive water conservation plan:

a.Development and implementation of a systematic, system-wide leak detection and repair plan;
b.Creation of conservation guidelines to be followed by food services staff and maintenance staff and implement training seminars for same;
c.Installation of mechanical components on fixtures and equipment in schools and administrative buildings that will reduce water waste and consumption;
d.Replacement of bathroom hardware that are not considered to be instruments of water conservation (low flow plumbing fixtures);
5.Adoption of healthy and safe cleaning program:

a.Training of facility managers and building service staff on green housekeeping and grounds upkeep requirements developed by the U.S. Green Building Council;
b.Development of clear program housekeeping polices and standards and environmental cleaning solution specifications by which to measure progress and achievement;
c.Procurement of recycled products for use in schools and administrative offices when economically feasible;
7.Planning and creating green facilities:

a.Mandate that Green Building Concepts be incorporated into the design and construction plan for all newly construction schools;
b.Mandate that Green Building Concepts be incorporated into the design and construction plan for all remodeling projects;
c.Installation of environmentally conscious technology into new and remodeled school and administrative buildings that reduce water and energy consumption;
d.Mandate that all new landscape plans employ environmentally conscious approach and design to minimize dependence of irrigation systems;
e.Standardization of systems and products:
i. Creation of Standardization Committees to be made up of DCSS employees and independent consultants that will

evaluate the implemented systems and products being used on the following criteria:

1. Life Cycle Costs;

2. Ease of Training and Maintenance;

3. Sustainability and Environmental Impact;

ii. Each Standardization Committee will focus on one of the following areas:

1. Building Envelope;

2. Architectural Fixtures;

No Duh said...

If there are so many cell phone towers around LHS, why is there still no service??

It would be very interesting to see how many rural schools (who are getting our fair share of the money) also have cell towers on their property.

We don't need to tape cell phones to our children's heads. They are already attached to their hips or buttocks almost 24/7.

Cere, which PTA got $25K from a cell phone company? Can't tell if you are being facetious or I'm mis-reading you.

teacher said...

No Duh, part of the agreement was that schools getting cell phone towers would be given $25,000 for the school's PTA. The other amounts the district would collect were not given-if I am remembering correctly.

From where I stand the $25,000 was to get parents to be in favor, or at least PTA's.

Fred said...

Dekalbparent, actually T-Mobile approached DCSS about cell phone towers PRIOR to the AT&T acquisition being announced. In other words, we are just seeing the natural progression for an agreement like this. Just because you are about to be acquired doesn't mean you stop the business intiatives already in place.

The only thing prevent advertising on school buses is a state law. Otherwise you could bet that it would be considered as a means of generating additional revenue.

There is one sure fire way for a governmental entitity to increase revenue and that is to increase taxes. Let's see the hands of those that are willing to do that and not look at commercial means. If you are a capitalist, you should believe that everything should be considered (as long as it is legal of course).

No Duh said...

Thanks Teacher. Haven't been paying close attention to the issue.

The $25K would be perfect. We could use it to replace the laptops that have been stolen in our schools, since DCSS doesn't have the money and thinks the PTAs should pony up for the replacements.

You can bet someone's pockets will get lined -- either in kickbacks or cushy do-nothing jobs in the new "cell tower" department as someone else mentioned.

Dekalbparent said...

@Fred -

I really think T-Mobile had an inkling of the possible deat with AT&T before it was publicly announced. I believe the perceived degradation in products and service can be connected to this time... I have worked for companies that ewere acquired and this is what happened. The corporate atmosphere subtly changes.

As to the placement of ads on buses, I was joining in Kim's jest. However, I really don't have any problem with DCSS plastering buses and stadiums with ads if it gets us bux, except that I have no trust that those bux would be not be spent in a way that benefits the students and teachers. I would LOVE to see the Palace tarted up to the extreme, especially if there was money to be had for it.

Heck - the BOE meetings often have enough entertainment value that DCSS should look for commercial sponsorship. Even commercials might pass the time during their rather long recesses during meetings.

Dekalbparent said...

I used the tool to check the towers within 4 mile radius of my house and found 53 towers that are registered to AT&T, BellSouth, Cingular, Pactel and T-Mobile (15 for T-Mobile). I live within a mile of Medlock.

Why do they need another one?

Fred said...

@Dekalbparent, that would be interesting, sponsorships of the Board meetings. Perhaps the Chik-fil-a Work Session or the Publix Business Meeting? Who knows, maybe this is a way to get the committe meetings shown on PDS 24 :)

Atlanta Media Guy said...

There is no way that the funds DCSS gets for the cell towers will match what DCSS will get if they raise the millage..

One thing for sure, bucks that do not come from the taxpayer will most likely go to friends and family and will most likely pay for trips to the Bahamas and Reynold's Plantation.

I do not trust our leadership with any more money.

Anonymous said...

@cherylpaulmiller - There is a device that gives off radiation 24 hours a day that is in our homes - the wireless router. Most people have them but consider the level emitted to be safe to have in their houses (which is what I think about the cell towers for the same reason).

Kim Gokce said...

I appreciate some joining in my jest. I would be opposed to the towers on the face of the proposition and do not need to analyze the health implications, the competitive position of AT&T, or the ethics of "hush money" to PTAs.

To me this is simple, our public system should not be in the business of hosting cell towers from any company. This has zero to do with education and should be off the table with no discussion. They are wasting tax payer money planning this and our time in contemplating it.

Do I oppose private funding of public education? Absolutely not. I am lining up a series of high profile corporations over the summer to directly support some amazing, new programs at CK this fall. But someone please explain to me what becoming a cell site has to do with education? What next? Landfill leases to Waste Management?

Kim Gokce said...

Ror school boosters/PTAs out there who prefer not to be bought, here is a local company that can provide you fantastic product that can be very effective as a fund-raising for schools. We helped "alpha" the lockerskin products at CK (you can see our kids in their promo video):


We've used these to promote the Foundation in the school and they can also be a great public service message platform.

no, I am not an investor in the company but I wish I were ...

Cerebration said...

Great points as always, Kim. In fact, I would say that the inattention to matters relating to actual education is the root of our problems in DCSS. We ALWAYS have one fire or another to put out - one construction plan or another to attend to - one contract or another to be debated. All of which only serve to delay the real conversation --- how to best educate the nearly 100,000 children in our charge.

Can anyone hear me now?

Cerebration said...

BTW - he's not kidding. I've seen the lockerskin product - tis truly astoundingly beautiful. Anyone looking for a fundraiser should look into these.

Anonymous said...

Just to give you an idea of whether a prior school board would have approved of cell towers:

“Well-designed, well-built schools, with something of artistic grace and beauty manifest in structure and grounds, will have an influence for good, not only upon pupils, but upon the entire community. Preventable ugliness is a sin, especially when it is forced upon children in the formative years of their lives…Let us make the school what it should be — the most attractive place in the community.”
— M. L. Brittain, State School Superintendent, School Architecture: Georgia (Georgia’s Department of Education, 1911)

Kim Gokce said...

Thanks, Cere. The reason the ones you saw were so beautiful is because we featured original student art during the "alpha." :)

SW DeKalb has become a customer of the company but I haven't spoken with anyone from the school. The guys who operate it always bent over backward to be helpful. I highly recommend them and will use them again.

Kim Gokce said...

Wow, Cheryl, that's a good clip! I guess I'm a 1911 kind of guy.

Cerebration said...

Kim - you ARE a 1911 kind of guy!

Kim Gokce said...

A "1911" man is also a fan of the most famous handgun in the history of the U.S. Army - the Browning M1911 .45 ACP is a legend among servicemen. Ok, I'll take that as a compliment.

Anonymous said...

Petition is back up and running. If you are opposed to the cell towers, please sign and help us get the word out. Meeting will be held Monday, June 13 at 6 p.m.

Cerebration said...

@Kim - That's exactly how I meant it!

Anonymous said...

All board meetings are held at:

Administrative and Instructional Complex

J. David Williamson Board Room

1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd

Stone Mountain, GA 30083

Cerebration said...

BTW - It looks like the board may have put this back on the ACTION ITEMS on the agenda for this evening's meeting -- They plan to VOTE on this tonight apparently!

Agenda Item G.5. T-Mobile Wireless Tower Placements

Anonymous said...

Possible July 11 for new date for vote. Keep an eye out for it and sign those petitions! Name and email can remain annoymous!!

Cerebration said...

The vote has been postponed to the July 12th meeting.

I found this info on the Patch --

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how the July 4th slideshow relates to the change in date? Is there now at July 11th and 12th meeting?

Anonymous said...

July 7, 2011

Steven Donahue
Executive Director, Plant Services
1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
Stone Mountain, GA 30083

Dear Mr. Donahue,

Pursuant to the state open records law, Ga. Code Ann. Secs. 50-18-70 to 50-18-77 , I write to request access to and a copy of the proposal, meeting notes, minutes, agendas, and any other documents from either public or private meetings, conference calls, lunches, Faxes, Memos, etc. that have any relevance whatsoever to the agreement or potential agreement to place cell towers on 12 school properties in DeKalb County.

These notes should include all three of the vendors the school board reportedly considered as well as the proposals they were provided that led their decision to select T-mobile/AT&T. Any documents that provide dollar amounts are of particular importance as well as any internal documents that led to the consideration of cell towers as revenue generators for the county, any consultants utilized for the drawing up of plans and any records from site visits or inspections at local schools, or schools in other counties. Any records submitted to parents, residents, principals or the press should also be included. Any documents related to expert advice that was needed by the board in order to review this option for alternative payments should also be included. . If your agency does not maintain these public records, please let me know who does and include the proper custodian's name and address.

I agree to pay any reasonable copying and postage fees of not more than $0.00. If the cost would be greater than this amount, please notify me. Please provide a receipt indicating the charges for each document.

As provided by the open records law, I will expect your response within three (3) business days. See Ga. Code Ann. Sec. 50-18-70(f).

If you choose to deny this request, please provide a written explanation for the denial including a reference to the specific statutory exemption(s) upon which you rely. Also, please provide all segregable portions of otherwise exempt material.

Please be advised that I am prepared to pursue whatever legal remedy necessary to obtain access to the requested records. I would note that willful violation of the open records law can result in the award of reasonable attorney fees and other costs of litigation. See Ga. Code Ann. Sec. 50-18-73(b).

Thank you for your assistance.




Anonymous said...

I am still waiting for the minutes to show up from the June 13 meeting. So far under the supporting documents section, the petition that was submitted to stop the cell towers has not appeared anywhere. Don't they have to enter it into the public documents once they receive it? They received enough copies for every board member plus one for Ms. Tyson. When will these minutes be posted?

Anonymous said...

mediatzar - are you nuts? This is not about needing the cell service. And, you know that none of this money will ever see the inside of a classroom. Why would we ruin our neighborhood with an unslightly cell tower, help AT&T sneak in the back door without giving the parents or resident the respect of even being upfront about their intentions, line the pockets of a select few, pay off the PTA to keep quiet and place a tower that radiates RF radiation 24/7 which, over long the long term has not been tested to determine if it causes cancer, but is suspected in many cases across the county. In the UK chilren are not even allowed to carry cell phones. In Germany, they have limites on how close these towers can even be placed to their cattle. AT&T is prohibited from buying up more spectrum, so the only way they can get it is through acquision with other companies, like T-mobile. I don't know what your Lakeside cell service is like, but we are not talking about a small area. There are 12 schools, the majority of them are elementary schools which means the most vulnerable of populations. At our school, the coverage is fine. You must have another carrier than AT&T but the tower won't help you either. They will jack up their rates for leasing out the space until the smaller carrier will be put out of business or agree to be bought as well. Once they have a monopoly we all get higher rates and bad customer service. Did you know that the firefighters of America were approached with these deals before the schools and they said they felt it was unsafe and a potential health hazzard? Read this:
And did you know the California PTA has written its own resolution which the national PTA may soon adopt:
Why would you think it is okay to put children at risk, not just from radiation, but from increase industrial traffic, stranger danger, HAZMAT materials at the base, a fall zone of the tower that would hit the school, falling debis like ice in the winter, falling workers (there were 5 falling deaths in May), falling tools, destruction of school property, destruction of property values for the houses nearby and likely a reduction in the school enrollment which would likely lead to another school closing. We live in a nice neighborhood and paid a lot for our home. Yet the school does not serve the community. It is 60% poverty thanks to the busing of students, school choice, NCLB and a mission to drive caring parents above the poverty line out of the area to charter or magnets or privates. We live here and the residents have not even been informed. And NO ONE, not even you has any clue how much money they are even considering and whether or not that is a true number, a fair number, or what it will be spent on or who will receive it. The school will likely get 40 or 60%, but where will that go once they close our school? How will it be used in the meantime? In other parts of the country the money goes into a slush fund for the principal to use for lunches, dinner, seminars at beaches, but it isn't even allowed to be spent on school improvements or teacher salaries. Why would you think this is no big deal and just hand over the key to neighborhood downfall to a group that cannot even find anyone in the country that wants to try to lead them? Are you so blind or numb to the corruption that you, too, are willing to sell out our children for what? So you can have better cell service. Please reconsider your position after reading the links I provided and open your eyes. Or, tell us what your connection is with the cell companies so we can put your comments into proper context.

Anonymous said...

mediatzar, so few people showed up because the notice was unclear. It did not even sound like the towers were to be placed at the schools themselves, but rather "at various locations" which we all assumed meant commercial locations where you normally see cell towers. Here is a link to the notice: And here is a link to our petition. Read over the comments and tell me if you still think we don't care:

Anonymous said...

mediazar: "There is a device that gives off radiation 24 hours a day that is in our homes - the wireless router." That may be true in your home, but not in mine. I have a young child who does not have a cell phone and we do not use wireless devices because children are the most vulernable to negative effects from this form of radiation. The argument that it is all around us is ridiculous... it's already around us, so why not add a lot more? Is that how you feel about cigerette smoke? exhaust fumes? asbestos? lead based paint? The World Health Organization has stated that cellular radiation is a possible carcinigen. My elementary school student does not need the school board forcing her to go to school where she will be subjected to a possible carcinigen for 8 hours or more a day. It is my job to protect my child and raise her in a healthy environment. Shouldn't the schools do their job to provide that to her? What about the HAZMAT materials at the base of a tower? What about the maintenace contractors who are allowing on and off property whenever they want, with unmarked vehicles and no background check? Exactly what do you think we will get for assuming these risks? It doesn't matter what you think or I think anyway... the board is acting purely on the financail gain and not even considering the opinions of those who are paying the bills, my community. We pay the bill for our school which educates 60% of children from other neighborhoods, we pay for children who deflect to other schools in the system like charters and magenets and we pay for other counties. Now you want us to take a huge hit on our propety values AGAIN? For what? The article was saying that it would be nice to at least see the proposal so we can have a clue as to what the money will even be used for. And, don't you know that the first child that gets sick or the first resident that gets cancer, whatever the cause, will blame the tower and sue the county. That is more money the taxpayers will have to cover. We have had enough. Tell me what district you live in and how much you pay annually in taxes... let's see how fair things are and how you feel if I want to put a tower next to your home.

Anonymous said...

Here is a better copy that is easier to read:

Cerebration said...

Now we're hearing that there are already bulldozers clearing the way at Medlock school!

This announcement just went out from that neighborhood association:

Medlock Schools Children's Garden Saved from the Bulldozer

The DeKalb County School System grounds crew appeared at the school on Thursday. It looked like they were just trimming the crepe myrtles, although they were a bit extreme.

Friday they were back and when Kaye Smith drove by she noticed they were bulldozing trees. Trees that had been planted as memorials; trees that the Medlock kids had planted for the victims of the Oklahoma city bombings. She "engaged in conversation" with the crew then she started calling folks. She was able to get a supervisor to come down to the school and as more neighbors arrived, the supervisor called his boss and it was finally agreed that the Children's Garden would not be bulldozed.

The community will be allowed to maintain the children's garden as well as maintain the plantings along the front of the building.The school Board grounds crew will still mow and maintain the trees.

We will be setting up a group to maintain the gardens in association with the Medlock Park Community Garden. An initial meeting for planning will be announced soon.

- - - -

This is yet another reminder of why we must continue to contact the DCSS Board and let them know that

- Medlock Neighbors want to DISCUSS how the property is to be used and maintained (vs. react to the alarming appearance of bulldozers!)

- Medlock Neighbors do not want a cell tower in our midsts, as outlined in the online petition.

Contact your elected DCSS Board members as follows:

teacher said...

Thanks for posting the news about Medlock. That is just plain wrong and I am glad that someone was able to stop the destruction. If they are going to bulldoze the trees that children planted, I am assuming the T-Mobile Towers are a go. The board/district has no regard for anyone but themselves. said...

DeKalb, please do not give up on our children. The school board would love to watch us all turn our back on the cell tower issue. Let's face it, we are being hit left and right with all kinds of news and information, it is hard to pick one crisis and then stick to it. But, often we look back and think, "I wish I would have done more to help back then so we wouldn't be here now." Well, we are giving you a chance this time to STOP that regret from happening.

We all heard about the 12 schools proposed for cell towers by T-mobile and we were all trying to make sense of it as the board rushed the item onto a summer agenda just before the new superintendent was announced. Perhaps they knew that she would not approve. Perhaps they thought parents would start talking once school was in session.

Well, what they probably did not expect when they took three schools off the list was for the parents who helped their own neighbors protest and win might stick around a while longer to help OTHER schools protest and win... but that is exactly what we are doing.

You heard it said by Donna Elder, who voted "No" to the cell towers due in large part to the fact that she is a cancer survivor, "If it isn't good for one school, it isn't good for any school." She and Nancy Jester were the only ones opposed, however the decision to remove three schools only had Jesse Cunningham against it. So, the board was aware that there were some valid reasons out there and agreed that for some schools, cell towers did not sound like a very good idea.

But, if your concern was ONLY for the school near you, then let us speak to that side of your brain for a moment (the one you probably hold your cell phone on because you are not thinking very straight) (kidding)....

If a single tower goes up at a single school in DeKalb and a single board members gets a single pocked lined with a little extra cash as a result... guess what will happen... Yup, we will have a precedent set and an appetite whet. We cannot allow that to happen or it is just a matter of time before cell towers at all school become common practice.

Property values, health, safety concerns - there are lots of reasons to oppose these things. Don't debate it! Just do something about it. The number one reason we are opposed to it is because even T-mobile thought we would or should oppose it! It's not a good sign when a company designs a flyer for a meeting to talk to people with the intent to attract as small of an audience as possible.

There were numerous rule violations here and, believe us, we plan to speak out on this topic when it goes before the DeKalb County Office of Planning. But, we cannot stand up and speak on behalf of nine schools if we do not have signatures on our petitio that represent all nine schools.

We will do our best, but we need to help get the word out, especailly to the Lithonia schools. We have written form petitions in addition to the online format in case someone want to sign it harcopy. We do use a very reputable online petition form that does not give out personal data, but it may be easier for some to just sign in person.

SO... NOW YOU CAN HELP. Use the following links to download the forms needed so you can talk to friends, parents, neighbors, whoever and encourage them to sign. Remember ... 30 seconds to sign, for something that will affect us all for 30 years!

Thank you! And, please, no one wants to debate the RF radiation issue any longer... this is about a lot more than just that!

Here are the links:


Flyer with contacts to call for opposing the permits:

Blank signature sheet: said...

The DCSS apparantly is claiming they are above the law. We are being told that construction has begun on towers without any permit process. This does not make sense because someone should have to look over the documents and plans to ensure these things are safe and do not violate any codes, right? While we are waiting to find out exactly what state law they think gives them the authority to go around the county's zoning board and commissioners, keep the signatures coming. Just one more reason to oppose them - they lie, they cheat, they steal. Actually, that's three more reasons.