by: John Bachman Updated:DEKALB COUNTY, Ga.,None —
As school boards squeeze their budgets, some DeKalb leaders are getting creative to make money.
In some cases they can make millions of dollars by renting school property for cellphone towers. One DeKalb County lawmaker said the revenue is not worth the risk.
30-year, $2.2-million contract has been signed with DeKalb County Schools. T-Mobile is planning to put a cell tower at Briarlake Elementary School and eight more towers at eight other schools across the county.
"This is public land that they want to use for private gain at the expense of the children," Briarlake neighbor Stephanie Byrne said.
Byrne has been fighting the towers for months. She was hoping her DeKalb County lawmakers could help.
At the DeKalb legislative delegation meeting Monday, Byrne got mixed news.
"This bill will not affect any contracts already in place," Rep. Karla Drenner said.
Lawmakers are pushing for change, but only for future towers, not for the towers already on their way.
"I think we should avoid exposing or creating potential of exposure to our children as a placement of cellphone towers," Drenner said.
Drenner got the needed signatures Monday and will file a bill Tuesday that would ban cell towers at public schools in DeKalb County only. The bill would include Decatur City Schools as well.
A lobbyist for DeKalb Schools told lawmakers the district is concerned that the bill focuses only on DeKalb County.
Drenner said she has already filed a similar bill for a statewide ban on cell towers at public schools.
"We are talking about a huge amount of time that children will be placed in this environment," Drenner said.
Many of the people at Monday's meeting who were opposed to the
nine towers going up in DeKalb County told Channel 2's John Bachman they were hoping lawmakers could help. However, they said they're looking at lawsuits to stop the towers.