School to keep its roof rental fees
Published 11:50 am, Tuesday, November 14, 2017
BRIDGEPORT — Hallen School is going to get to keep the rental proceeds from cell phone antennas being affixed to its roof after all.
A month after agreeing to allow the placement but not necessarily give the rental fee to the school, the city school board voted 4-to-1 to a plan that in the first year will use the money to buy the school of 500 pre-kindergarten through sixth grade students new computer carts, online instructional materials, I-pads, a laminator and poster maker.
Board member Dennis Bradley voted against the plan. He wants the entire district to benefit from the proceeds.
The rental agreement is expected to reap nearly $160,000 over five years.
In future years, Hallen has a plan to use the funds for headphones, science equipment, classroom libraries and other classroom supplies, Schools Superintendent Aresta Johnson told the board on Monday
T-Mobile had been trying for six months to win approval to use the school as a place for its antennas because of increased customer use. Hallen is one of the few tall buildings in that North End neighborhood. Staff and parents were against the plan. There were concerns about potential health risks but also about the proceeds disappearing into a $245 million operating budget.
The contract between the district and T-Mobile is still being executed so the sets of 6 to 8 foot antennas have yet to be installed, Marlene Siegel, chief operating officer for the district said.
Siegel agreed the money should all go to Hallen.
Hallen Principal Dyrene Newton said the 94-year-old school is pretty behind when it comes to technology.
Students up until the third grade have just a two-hour window to use some 100 chrome books available at the school, many of them hand me downs from Central High School.
“That is not great instruction,” Newton said. “Technology should be embedded into the curriculum.”
Additionally, kindergarten students only see the chrome books during testing time. So instead of showing what they are capable of, test time is spent figuring out how to use the Chrome Books.
A single chrome book cart cost $9,000. The school gets a $7,000 annual allowance for supplies.
“I would have to spend every single penny one year to buy half a cart,” Newton said. Leaving the school with no paper, crayons or other supplies.
“This is a way for this school to get with the times with technology,” Newton added.
Bradley said it seemed like the intended purchases were valuable, but he still favored spreading the wealth beyond Hallen.