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Hillsborough school board to vote Tuesday on contract with cell tower developer

A deal that spawned a parent activist movement is up for renewal in the Hillsborough County School District.

Board members are scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to remain in business with Collier Enterprises II, a south Tampa firm that develops school property for cellular towers.

The arrangement brings hundreds of thousands of dollars to schools, which use the money for everything from traffic cones to laptop computers.

Critics say there is not enough scientific research to say, with certainty, whether day-long exposure to cell tower radiation is safe for young children. In the five years that the contract has been in effect, an organization called Parents Against Cell Towers at Schools has opposed construction at numerous campuses, sometimes successfully.

Collier is headed by Stacy Frank, an attorney and daughter of longtime Democratic politician Pat Frank, Hillsborough County's Clerk of Courts. The younger Frank ran for the state House in November. She lost, with anti-cell tower parents mobilizing against her.

The school district allows principals to decide whether to accept the towers at their schools. Board member Stacy White says it is wrong to saddle principals with that kind of politically divisive decision. "Our principals should be able to place their focus on other areas," he said.

White also has spoken out about the possible health risks, arguing at a March 8 board workshop that it's better to rule on the side of caution than to learn, years later, that the exposure was harmful to children.

But White appears to be in the minority on a board that is deeply concerned about dwindling state revenues.

"Based on the feelings expressed at the workshop, I will probably have a tough road to hoe," White said.

The agenda for Tuesday's meeting calls for a straight-up vote on whether to renew the contract with Collier. But the board could ask the district to open the contract up for other bids, White said.

The meeting, which is open to the public, begins at 3 p.m. at school district headquarters, 901 E. Kennedy Boulevard.

Hillsborough school board to vote Tuesday on contract with cell tower developer 05/02/11 [Last modified: Monday, May 2, 2011 2:31pm]
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