CPS cuts into schools’ cellphone tower cash deals

Jul 9, 2013 by

BY LAUREN FITZPATRICK –

It was a way for a number of cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools to generate a little extra income on their own: leasing roof space to cellular phone companies looking for a place to erect their towers.

 

But now CPS is putting the arm on the schools, allowing them to keep only a third of the money they raise.

 

The change was quietly slipped through, surprising school administrators in an already tumultuous budget year.

 

The district told them, via their new budgets for the year, that the schools could have just a third of that money and the other two-thirds would be distributed to the rest of CPS schools.

 

In a $5 billion budget for the district of about 400,000 children, the $4.2 million generated by about 140 cellphone leases at some 95 schools could run a CPS elementary school.

 

CPS officials say it’s only fair to spread the money around since all schools are hurting.

 

But at schools already staring down deep cuts in their draft budgets, the tens of thousands of dollars matter. They mean extra aides and supplies and equipment.


“It’s scary. Why are we working so hard for our school if you’re just stepping in and taking it anyhow?” said Victoria Benson, local school council chairwoman at Portage Park Elementary. “We’ve had that money every year. It’s that comfort money.”

 

Portage Park, 5330 W. Berteau, generates about $60,000 from leases to two cellphone companies that put towers on the roof. Last year, the money paid for substitutes when teachers had special education meetings, for security guard overtime and badges, and for a new school marquee and website that keeps parents better informed.

via CPS cuts into schools’ cellphone tower cash deals – Chicago Sun-Times.

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