Five years ago, Sprint erected an 85-foot cell phone tower in the middle of California's Vista Del Monte Elementary school. At the time, Sprint studied the tower's structural safety and an initial power reading, but since then teachers and students have become increasingly concerned about the tower's electromagnetic effect on health.

The Vista Del Monte tower is 20 feet from classroom buildings and next to the playground and lunch tables. Teachers and staff at the school, in the Victoria Park neighborhood, have expressed concerns about the number of cancer cases that have appeared at the school since the tower was installed. Janet Acker, a retired Vista Del Monte teacher, used to work in one of the classrooms closest to the tower. She has recorded nine current and former staff members who have been diagnosed with cancer. Acker has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and has spoken to the board of education about the matter in the past.

The school district receives $1,500 a month to house the Sprint cell tower and also uses it for district communication and Internet equipment. Considering the budget crunch that many school districts face each year, that kind of steady income is a big incentive to let the tower stand.  

Still, school officials are listening to the concerns of staff and students. This week, school officials will launch a $15,000 independent review to study the electromagnetic waves coming from the cell tower, particularly looking for any irregular electric waves, or “dirty power.”

You can bet that many school districts nationwide will be eager to hear the results.