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District, AT&T come to cell phone tower agreement after three years

Published: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 3:59 p.m. CDT
(Ty Rushing/Daily News)
Newton Community School District Superintendent Bob Callaghan points to where the new AT&T cell phone tower will be built just southeast of Newton Senior High School. School Board president Andy Elbert and board vice-president Sheri Benson also are pictured.

“Did you bring the champagne (now) that we finally sealed the deal?”

No one could blame Newton Community School District Board of Education member Donna Cook for wanting to celebrate after the board finally approved a lease agreement with AT&T to build a cell phone tower on district land.

The district and AT&T had engaged in negotiations off and on for the past three years on the issue before Monday’s vote made the deal official.

Superintendent Bob Callaghan was an integral part of negotiating with AT&T representative Steve Ward to get the contract approved. In February, the board voted to end talks between the district and the company after having to cancel a final vote on the tower in back to back meetings.

Then in April, Callaghan said Ward apologized for the way past negotiations went and asked him to approach the board about reopening talks. At the April 28 meeting, the board agreed to renew talks with the company.

Terms of the lease dictate: AT&T would rent 2,800 square feet from the district; the district has the right to approve construction drawings before any work takes place; the lease is for five years with four five-year renewals and an option to terminate after nine years; the district will get $1,000 a month, a 3-percent annual increase in that amount; and AT&T will pay up to $7,000 in legal fees.

One issue that held up the last round of negotiations was subletting space on the tower. If AT&T allowed another carrier space on the tower, the district would receive $400 or 25 percent of that amount, whichever is greater. An AT&T representative said the tower could hold four or five other companies.

“We feel that Mr. Ward has gone above and beyond after we had our initial issues,” Callaghan said.

The tower would be located just southeast of Newton Senior High School. It would be enclosed by a fence, have 24 hour monitoring and once construction begins, it could be completed in 45 to 60 days according to Ward.

The district’s push toward putting more technology in the hands of its students received a big push as the board approved $149,386.30 in tech purchases. NCSD Technology Supervisor Chris Beighler said this was lower than the $171,000 they expected to pay.

In total, 180 Chromebooks were purchased from PC Mac Exchange for $51,364, and those units will go Berg Middle School and Woodrow Wilson Elementary School.

Thomas Jefferson and Berg elementary schools will get 60 iPads, which were purchase directly from Apple at a cost of $22,740.

NHS, BMS and Aurora Heights Elementary School will split 90 new desktop computers purchased from Dell for a total of $75,282.30.

Beighler said they received such significant savings because companies get really competitive when they know an order is out to bid. He said they lowered the amount of computers they were previously seeking.

There was a public hearing on the matter before the vote took place and no comments were made.

In other business:

• The board approved milk and bread bids for the 2014-2015 school year. Hiland Dairy was awarded the diary contract and the district will pay it $122,984.51 Pan-O-Gold received the bread contract and the district will pay on a per item basis.

• East Marshall Schools were granted permission to have its busses cross over into district lines to transport some of its students. The district clarified no Newton students were riding those buses.

• A 28E agreement was approved between the district and the Lynnville-Sully Community School District to allow L-S to use Basics and Beyond Alternative School in SY 15.

• First Newton National Bank, US Bank, Bank Iowa and the Iowa School Joint Investment Trust were selected to be the official depositories for SY 15.

• The board held the first readings on updates for two of its current district policies to be more aligned with the Iowa Association of School Board’s policies. One pertained to student driving permits and the other pertained to the district’s switch to the 1,080 hour school calendar model. • District Business Manager Gayle Isaac reviewed the last three years of district utility bills.

• A public hearing will be held at 6:45 p.m. July 28 for the purchase of a new school bus.

Senior staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 6532, or at trushing@newtondailynews.com.

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