HOUSTON The construction of a T-Mobile cell phone tower at Kirk Elementary to generate revenue for the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District has outraged parents and residents of the Lakes of Eldridge neighborhood in northwest Harris County.
All up and down this street people are just completely upset, said resident Clay Jeansonne. You walk out my front door and you see what my children have now called the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory smoke stack.
Cy-Fair ISD bought the land for the elementary school from Lakes of Eldridge for $10 in 1995.
Facing steep public education cuts and stiff opposition to a tax increase, the district turned to selling advertising on school buses to generate revenue, offering elementary school parents before- and after-school childcare and giving the go-ahead to build cell phone towers near schools.
The district has implemented several revenue-generating initiatives, the district said in a statement to KHOU 11 News. These initiatives provide new revenue streams for the school district during a time when school budgets are tight and state public education funding is being drastically reduced. This additional revenue is significant and will have a positive impact on students.
The tower on the campus of Kirk Elementary nets the district just over $2,000 per month.
What else do we give? asked parent Stephanie Lyons We do this today and put our children in harm s way, next year there is still going to be a shortfall, what do we sell off then?
Cy-Fair ISD officials said the cell phone tower at the elementary school was safe.
The facilities are constructed in full compliance with all local, state and federal laws, including the stringent FCC guidelines for health and safety, the district said. The district was given assurances that T-Mobile antennas operate well within national safety guidelines established by the federal government.
Still, some parents said they had pulled their children from the school.
There s a lot that we don t understand, said Rachel Schada, a Lakes of Eldridge resident who is also a member of the school s parent teacher organization. I just don t like taking unnecessary risks.