The Evesham Township Board of Education will be receiving $12,000 in revenue through hosting a cell phone tower.
“The district has done this in the past and already has a cell phone tower at Marlton Middle School,” business administrator Dennis Nettleton said. “We are constantly looking to increase revenues.”
According to Nettleton, the cell “pole” will not cause any negative impact on the surrounding residents or the students.
The pole is located in the bus lot behind Marlton Elementary School on Marlton Parkway.
“What we have is an existing cell phone tower from T-Mobile,” school board president Sandy Student said. “Verizon approached the district, needing one in the same area.”
According to Student, Verizon will develop and get approvals from the township planning and zoning boards.
“It won’t be close to the school and won’t do harm to the children,” Student said.
According to Nettleton, Verizon is looking to expand its 4G network in that part of town, and “they estimate that it will assist Verizon customers with their service.”
“There is no cost to build the tower,” Nettleton said. “Verizon Wireless will build the tower on district property and rent the space from the district at approximately $1,000 per month.”
The tower has flexibility as well.
“This tower has been designed to accept other vendors,” Nettleton said. “They would require a separate leasing agreement with the district.”
Currently, the district is facing budgetary shortfalls, which has brought about conversations to close Evans Elementary School, in addition to other budgetary solutions, including selling district-owned property.
Superintendent John Scavelli said at the most recent board of education meeting that the district will begin next year’s budget with a $2 million obligation for salary and benefits.
According to Scavelli, approximately $1 million of that can be raised through taxes with the cap.
“We have a fundamental problem every year, which has been true last year, next year and the following year,” Scavelli said at the meeting. “The tax levy cap is here and unless that law is changed, we have to deal with it every single year. This is our particular problem on the scope we’re talking about.”
The cell phone tower is part of the district’s answer to finding alternative avenues to raise money.
The tower will be located within the bus lot due to fewer buses on the lot, according to Student.
“The district was able to shave a few thousand dollars by consolidating bus routes and getting rid of some buses. Might as well put that extra area to good use,” Student said.
The district was able to save $211,000 as a result of bus consolidation, Student said.
ETSD is exploring solar opportunities as well, Nettleton said.
“Solar would be two-way savings because you don’t have to buy the power and you can sell back the excess,” Student said.
Additionally, the district would consider placing another cell phone tower in another location.
“The district is being creative when it comes to revenue. It makes sense to host the cell phone tower,” Student said.