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School Cell Phone Tower Proposal Shot Down By Parents

DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - Parents at one Dallas ISD elementary school squashed a plan to put a cell phone tower on top of the building.

It's not a novel idea for the school district; DISD has 17 active contracts for service providers to install equipment on property.

Some of the campuses already in use include Lincoln High School (just outside the building), and the football field light tower at Hillcrest High School. W.T. White High School will also be getting an antennae in the near future.

The contracts bring in revenue for DISD -- nearly $400,000 per year.

"Any revenue that you use to support educational achievement is important," said Andre Riley, spokesperson for DISD.

At the same time, Verizon says it is looking to expand coverage in the Lakewood neighborhood of East Dallas. The provider found Lakewood Elementary School to be a viable option for installing equipment.

"I've lived here seven years, and so have a lot of my neighbors. This is the first we've heard any of it, so it's disappointing that it wasn't better communicated," said Chris Halverson, a parent who lives across the street from the school.

Before any zoning or school board approval would take place, parents and neighbors had a chance to weigh in, at a meeting held Monday night in the elementary school auditorium.

Approximately 50 moms and dad attended, listening to a presentation from a Verizon representative.

Verizon proposed camouflaging the cell phone equipment on the school, installing it on the outside of a smoke stack and then wrapping the smoke stack in a faux brick façade. But most of the objections had nothing to do with looks.

"I have two children here, and I just don't want a cell phone tower near children. I don't see any reason," said parent Julie Graves. "It's about radiation exposure and brains development. They really just don't have any data on safety."

Graves was one of several parents in attendance who voiced objection.

In the end, the DISD representative in attendance -- the district's property manager -- asked for a vote.

When nearly all everyone raised a hand in opposition, the Verizon and DISD representative said it was over.

Normally the issue would have gone to a district leadership committee for review, before ending up in front of the school board. A district spokesperson says having community support does matter.

"Lakewood in general, they look out for the kids. [The community] is interested in improving the schools," Halverson said. "Even though DISD wants the same thing, they probably should go about it a little differently."

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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