State legislator proposes bill…

….regarding non-educational uses of school propertydelegategeraldine

Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith

A county delegate has proposed a bill that would mandate the school system to create a policy for considering and approving non-educational uses of school property.

Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith said she introduced the bill after community concerns over the construction of cell phone towers on public school grounds. The school system does not have a policy like the proposed bill or a policy addressing cell phone towers on school property, said Max Pugh, a spokesperson for Prince George’s County Public Schools.

“Some people were concerned they didn’t understand the criteria and process in how the development of school property is determined,” Valentino-Smith said.

First reported by The Sentinel in June, the Prince George’s County Public Schools signed a lease in 2011 to allow a wireless communications company to build cell phone towers on 73 potential school sites. The wireless company, Milestone Communications, will pay the school system a one-time fee of $25,000 and 40 percent of gross revenues generated from each tower built, according to the lease. All revenue will go to the school system’s general fund, not individual schools.

Opponents of cell phone towers on school grounds say they oppose towers because of health concerns and a perceived lack of transparency in the approval process.

Charlene Bearisto, a member of the Maryland Coalition Against Cell Towers, said she would like the bill to specifically address the siting of cell phone towers.

“I think the legislation currently proposed is too open ended,” said Bearisto, whose child attends Bowie High School. “It doesn’t have language in there significant enough to repeal the current wireless communications facilities that are planned. I’m hopeful legislation can be reworked and reworded so it can specify procedures to notify parents about siting of cell phone towers on school property.”

Read more >>> Prince George’s County sentinel

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