Briarlake Elementary – located at LaVista and Briarlake Roads – is a neighborhood school serving the Northlake community. The school houses the DeKalb program for deaf and hard of hearing students. The regular education students in Briarlake join with these hearing impaired students in an internationally renowned signing choir as well as make fast friends on the two small playgrounds. The hearing and non-hearing worlds of children are bridged and leveled on these playgrounds.
In December 2011, the DeKalb Board of Education approved the erection of a T-Mobile transmission cell tower on the school’s campus in addition to a tower on the grounds of nearby Lakeside High School about a mile away. Of note, many members of the community were unaware of the Board’s approvals.
Not unlike other established communities, numerous “empty-nesters” who once had their children attending these schools are now uninformed about day-to-day school activities. Although such residents no longer have working ties to Briarlake, they are parents who left legacies of their strong support. Over time Briarlake parents have built a lovely garden, a courtyard, an outdoor picnic area, an observation deck and an outdoor classroom on a nature trail. Incoming parent groups have always added to and maintained these areas throughout subsequent years. It is not unusual to find parents and children on the campus after hours and on weekends maintaining the campus and enjoying the playgrounds and the small, well-groomed nature trail.
The footprint of the T-mobile cell tower is 60 feet by 60 feet with an additional 20-foot utility easement and soars to 154 feet in height. Briarlake Elementary has a relatively small campus. In order to accommodate this gigantic structure, the children must either lose one of their playgrounds where Physical Education is taught or lose the outdoor classroom where Environmental Studies occur. The $1,400 T-Mobile monthly fee with a 30-year 3% escalation clause will go back to the DeKalb Schools Central Office to dispose of as they wish. T-Mobile will be able to use and sell expensive bandwidth netting a substantial profit for their company. The only ones who will not profit are the children of Briarlake Elementary.
It is unseemly and unsavory that the Board of Education destroys the children’s Environmental Studies outdoor classroom or the playground where they receive their Physical Education instruction for some monthly income and the opportunity for a company to improve their profitability. When did the “business of education” stop being instruction and become a moneymaking proposition? DeKalb County Schools has clearly lost its focus when they trade critical instructional space for a few pieces of silver.
Click here to sign the petition against cell towers at schools in DeKalb.
STATE LAWMAKERS TO HOLD HEARING ON TUESDAY at 11:30 AM
TOPIC: TOTAL BAN ON CELL TOWERS ON SCHOOL PROPERTIES!
State Rep. Karla Drenner, D-Avondale Estates, will introduce legislation banning construction of the towers near schools because of concerns about radiation safety.
WHAT: Hearing on Proposal to Ban Cellphone Towers on School Properties
WHEN: 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21
WHERE: Room 415 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building, across the street from the Georgia State Capitol.
GTCO-ATL will be sending notices to all petition signers, our Facebook follwers as well as the district, state and national PTAs. Please inform as many supporters for this action as possible so that we can prevent any cell towers from going up at any school in our county. The children of DeKalb are counting on us to do the right thing!
Find the AJC article on this topic at: