In the article, “Managing Wireless Tenants on School Properties” published by School Planning & Management, co-authors Natalia Shparber and Christopher Grimes discuss the benefits of wireless leases for school districts, as well as the implications that may follow.
When school districts enter into cell site agreements with wireless carriers, the rental revenue generated from these leases can be used to support various school programs, such as athletics. “During a challenging financial climate, schools had limited experience with land leases or other commercial activities on school properties,” according to the authors.
While there are definite benefits for school districts to become a wireless site landlord, there are also management issues that may be undiscovered or unaddressed. These may include construction compliance with federal, state and local laws, over occupancy of the school’s land, proper district reimbursement for electrical power usage, the replacement of stadium light bulbs when those bulbs are above an antenna array, compensation for legal and school district staff management time, and other contract elements. Also, the parties should take time upfront to discuss how to meet the carrier’s need for around-the-clock access with the school’s obligations to provide a safe and secure learning environment.
With proper legal strategies, coupled with lease enforcement and management, Ms. Shparber and Mr. Grimes say that districts should expect their wireless leases to produce greater generation of needed revenues to maintain and improve school facilities.