An approximately 90-foot cell tower will soon be placed at Flowery Branch High School.
The Hall County Board of Education approved the proposal from AT&T at the Monday meeting.
“It’s not (in) an area that we can use in the future,” said Damon Gibbs, executive director of facilities. The land for the cell tower is near the school’s side entrance of Elizabeth Lane, by the detention pond. It’s the farthest point from the school building, Gibbs said.
The agreement is for $21,600 per year, with a 10 percent increase every five years.
“It’s a 25-year option that would benefit the school system $659,000 over the 25 years,” Gibbs explained.
Superintendent Will Schofield noted cell reception was “spotty” at the high school.
“I remember a couple of crises that we’ve had in the last year, and I couldn’t get a cell signal,” Schofield said. “So I think it would be a benefit from a safety standpoint.”
Board member Bill Thompson made the motion to approve.
“I think it’s a great benefit in the long term, but also for the school right now,” Thompson said.
Gibbs said AT&T had indicated to him it would begin moving on the project quickly.
“There’s a real need in that area for service,” he said.
Separately at Monday’s meeting, board members gave the finance department authority to negotiate a tax anticipation note of up to $9.5 million on a bank-qualified loan.
“I’m not exactly sure that we’ll have to use this,” said Deputy Superintendent Lee Lovett, “but it’s going to come very close.”
“The general fund, probably in the next month, is going to have to loan the (special purpose local option sales tax) fund some money because we’re going to have a cash shortfall until some more proceeds come in,” Lovett further explained.
He added that the school system would not pursue the loan now, opting to wait until later in the month to “see how things develop” with the budget.
Lovett added the county school system has not had to borrow money “in several years.”
Funds from the tax anticipation note would be used until expected tax revenues are collected.