Montgomery County Public Schools and Verizon Wireless are hoping to construct a cell phone tower on the property of Neelsville Middle School. However, the Neelsville Middle School Parent Teacher Student Association has rejected the idea.
The PTSA put out a press release this week stating, “It is the position of the Neelsville PTSA, by unanimous vote of its membership in a meeting held on Thursday, June 8, that a cell tower should not be installed on the property of Neelsville Middle School in Germantown.”
The PTSA met on June 8 with Boyd Lawrence of MCPS Real Estate Management Team represented by Boyd Lawrence along with Verizon and their legal counsel, civil engineers, and radio frequency engineers, and from the Environmental Health Trust represented by Theodora Scarato. The PTSA said that at the meeting, MCPS and Verizon presented an overview of the proposed plan to place a cell tower at Neelsville. The Environmental Health Trust presented an overview of research conducted and related safety concerns.
“After hearing from the guest speakers and a substantial question and answer session, the Neelsville Middle School Parent Teacher Association voted unanimously to oppose the placement of a cell tower on Neelsville Middle School property,” said the release. “Additionally, by separate unanimous vote, the Neelsville PTSA resolved to actively oppose the placement of a cell tower on Neelsville Middle School property.”
As a result of this opposition, the PTSA is asking that the application be withdrawn and the matter ended.
“Therefore, it is the appeal and petition of the Neelsville PTSA that the Cell Tower Site Application #201701-04 filed on December 9, 2016, be voluntarily withdrawn, any similar or related efforts be ceased, and that no further attempt to place a cell tower at Neelsville Middle School be made by MCPS, Verizon or any other wireless carrier,” said the release.
The release went on to state, “In the alternative, the Neelsville PTSA requests that any application or action to place a cell tower on Neelsville property be rejected on the basis of the firm opposition of Neelsville parents, students, community, and PTSA.”
The idea of installing a cell phone tower at Neelsville Middle School was first proposed in early 2014. There are currently 11 Montgomery County Public Schools with cell towers; nine are located at high schools, one on a middle school— Tilden Middle School in Rockville, and one at an elementary school — Capt. James Daly Elementary in Germantown.
The cell towers that currently exist on MCPS properties are to generate nearly $900,000 in revenue each year. Revenue generated by the cell tower leases is split, one-third goes to the school where the tower is located. That money can be used at the discretion of the principal for things like offsetting costs of special events at the school or field trips for students. Another third of the revenue is credited to the school cluster, and the final third goes into the school system’s general fund.