At Tuesday night's School Committee meeting, Joe O'Shea of Landmark Dividend presented the Committee with the details of what would occur if the school department sold its Blackrock School cell tower contract that it currently earns revenue from.
O'Shea explained that by liquidating the cell tower, the Coventry School Department could be paid a lump sum of about $494,000, however long-term revenue would be forfeited and would instead go to Landmark. This figure is approximately seven years worth of income using the existing contract timeline.
"For a lump sum payment, we are just purchasing the lease with all of the existing terms," O'Shea said.
Committee member Tom Hetherman asked who would control the tower in the future and if the school department's rights regarding what is added to the tower would be given up.
"Who controls what goes on this tower in the future? We need to know what's going here and if there's any effect on kids," he said.
O'Shea explained that Landmark would only have whatever rights the current contract includes and nothing more.
"Our proposal to the committee is for what is there now - what you've already agreed to in your contract," he said. "We can't do anything more. We don't have the rights to the tower, we don't have the rights to expand any footprint. The only thing we have the right to allow them (wireless carriers) to do is what the contract already allows them to do."
When asked why Landmark and other companies have been interested in purchasing the tower, O'Shea explained that the appeal is for existing towers, as zoning regulations would prohibit most new tower proposals.
"There is so much opposition to towers now, so when there is one there, that is where the interest comes from," he said.
The committee is taking the presentation into consideration as an option to acquire more funds for capital improvements within the district.
House Bill #8008
Superintendent Michael Convery and Finance Director Robin Pelletier discussed House Bill 8008 that deals with Education Commissioner Deborah Gist and the budget process for Rhode Island schools. Convery explained people may have misinterpreted the bill, thinking that Gist could take over a school's budget, however this is inaccurate.
"It doesn't say that. It says she could delay or reject state aid," Convery clarified.
Pelletier explained that there have been some small changes made to the format that the department's budget needs to be submitted in, however the district has already been in compliance with its budget reporting.
"I don't see any challenges with this," she said.
To view a draft of Bill 8008, see the attached PDF file.