A cell phone tower on Lodi High School's campus could help fund the school's athletic programs and pull in money for other Lodi Unified schools to use at their discretion.
"We have started the most preliminary of negotiations," said Art Hand, assistant superintendent of facility planning at the district, pertaining to the addition of the tower.
Those negotiations are with a broker who represents T-Mobile, a cellular and wireless service provider.
The district is pursuing a similar project at McNair High School with MetroPCS, which will bring $18,000 into the district each year. The money, Hand said, would then be split up between the four high schools in the district to use as they wish.
Lodi Unified's school board authorized the district to make an agreement with MetroPCS at a meeting on Sept. 18.
At that meeting, Bonnie Cassel, a school board member, brought forward concerns about the health risks of putting cell phone towers on school campuses.
Both Cassel and the cellular company were asked to find any studies supporting the health risks of the towers.
At this time neither party has found any evidence supporting Cassel's concerns.
Before the tower can be installed, the district needs to finalize contract language with the company and work with MetroPCS to prepare a report on the effects the tower will have on the environment.
The tower should be in place at McNair High by Spring, Hand said.
Gary Knackstedt, athletic director at Lodi High, was unaware the district was looking to install a tower at McNair High when he proposed the plan for his school.
Knackstedt said one of his baseball coaches brought the idea to him in May.
"We thought we had an original thought," said Knackstedt, who took the idea to his principal and eventually the school district.
He hopes the money from the proposed tower will help fund the school's athletic programs, which, he said, almost pay for themselves through fundraising.
The time coaches and players spend fundraising, Knackstedt said, is time they could be using to concentrate on their individual sports.
"It would just make life a lot easier," Knackstedt said.
Although Knackstedt joked that he would like to have 75 cell phone towers on Lodi High's campus, he does think that adding one to each high school campus in the district could help school programs immensely.
But that's not a decision that's up to him.
"At this point it's above us," Knackstedt said.
Hand said the district is not pursuing any more contracts with other cell phone companies.
"We certainly would welcome the income, but we're not going out soliciting," Hand said.