New school board member says constituents are opposed to cell phone towers

BRANDON, Fla. - Mann Middle School students have a new classmate, but it's a little taller than the a average middle schooler.

A brand new cell tower was installed about a month ago, just as brand new Hillsborough County School Board member wonders whether any more should be allowed at all.

"I think it's been a while since the issue's been brought front and center," said District 4 School Board member Stacy White.

White called for a workshop Tuesday morning to do exactly that. He says his constituents are admanantly opposed to the towers.

Parent Carrie Grimail agrees.  "Where does it stop?" Grimail said. "'Hey, we can make some money off a cell tower. Let's go ahead and put up a billboard. Why not a 7-Eleven? What about a gas station? Where does it end?"

Three issues center the debate.

The first, principals currently choose whether to allow a cell tower on school property. 

"I think very highly of our principals, but their job, in my mind, is really to run their school," White said.

The second is a little more controversial - are the towers safe neighbors for children?

"Why don't we say we're going to err on the side of caution when it comes to our children's health?" Grimail said.

School board member Carol Kurdell believes the towers don't pose a risk to health, but aren't risk-free. The real risk, she says, points to the third and final issue - money.

If the school district lost its towers, it'd also lose about $350,000 a year.

"That's a big hole to fill," Kurdell said. "That means our students are going to be doing with less and less and less."

The new cell tower at Mann Middle School is projected to bring in $22,000 a year.

$11,000 of that money will go to towards the education of the school's students.

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