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Antenna a good call for school

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Westmoor High School may install a cell phone antenna disguised as a tree if the Jefferson Union High School District board agrees on a deal that will bring the district $2,500 in monthly revenue.

The district was approached by T-Mobile two years ago with an idea to install an antenna at Westmoor High School, a desirable location because it sits on a hill. After many changes in design, the district may finally approve the antenna in a few weeks.

T-Mobile considered putting the antenna in the middle of a hill on the school’s campus, inside several flag poles and on the high roof of the auto shop class disguised as a bell tower, but the plans would have been too intrusive to the school, according to district Superintendent Mike Crilly.

“We didn’t want a big ugly antenna on the hill,” Crilly said. “We don’t want anything on the roof because we decided to put solar power there.”

Several months ago, the company finally offered a solution that the district liked — put an antenna inside an artificial tree that would stand among existing pines and cypresses near the back of the school’s cafeteria on Edgemont Drive.

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“You don’t really notice it until someone points it out to you,” the superintendent said.

The company would still need to get approval from the city and state agencies that regulate such installations, so it’s unclear when the antenna would be installed.

The antenna would bring the district $2,500 a month with a 3 percent annual increase. And, if the district approves the project before March 19, the company promised to throw in a $5,000 bonus.

“It makes sense for us — it’s clean, it’s safe, it doesn’t interfere with anything the school is doing,” Crilly said. “And if it’s going to generate some funding especially in hard times, then we’re OK with it.”

The superintendent also began discussions with the company to provide better wireless Internet access at the school, which currently has Wi-Fi only in the library and a few classrooms.

The school board will discuss installing the antenna Tuesday, and a vote on the matter is scheduled for March 18.


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