Monopoles and Fairfax County Public Schools

Get the facts about monopoles and Fairfax County Public Schools.

Background

As wireless infrastructure is built-out in Fairfax County, public lands are frequently used for telecommunication facilities (monopoles). Public lands include, but are not limited to, county, school and park properties.  Wireless telecommunication facilities are also allowed by the County on some private properties.

The monopoles located on school property are currently leased to a variety of cell service providers who locate antennas on the monopoles. Many of the monopoles also carry lighting and are integrated into school playing fields.

Application and Approval Process

When a proposal for a new monopole site is brought to FCPS, staff members from the Department of Facilities and Transportation Services review the proposal with the school principal.  Additional meetings are held by the principal to inform the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA)   of the process. The local School Board members are notified of the pending application.  This process follows School Board Policy 8335 and School Board Regulation 8335.

After initial review and if FCPS deems the proposed site to be feasible, the applicant will be notified and begin the process of filing an official "2232" application with the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Development (DPD).  The DPD prepares a staff report for each monopole application which is reviewed and voted on by the Fairfax County Planning Commission. A public hearing is held prior to a final decision on each application.  The Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance requires special exception approval by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors prior to the installation of any telecommunications monopole or tower.

FCPS Health and Safety Review

FCPS would not make a business decision on its Wireless Infrastructure (Monopole) program that would jeopardize the health and safety of its students, staff or the public.  This program conforms to all applicable federal, state and local laws, regulations and guidelines.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates cellular and personal communication service carriers and the allowable limits for frequency and electromagnetic field power.  FCC guidelines are identical to those recommended by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements.

The FCC is also responsible for setting standards for safe exposure to radio frequency (RF) emissions (FCC RF Safety).  All applications for new sites must include data on the highest level of emissions that can result from placement of the monopole and the respective antenna array(s).  The RF emissions from cellular antennas placed on monopoles at FCPS sites have been assessed and found to be well below federal guidelines.  In addition, FCPS contracts to have all sites tested annually for RF emission levels.

Revenue

Monopoles Owned by FCPS 

The hosting school receives a one-time site access fee for each new cell service provider co-locating to the monopole.

FCPS receives recurring monthly rents from cell service providers.  The rents are escalated annually per the terms of the respective lease agreement. FCPS utilizes a private-sector management company to review cell service provider requests, construction plans and, monitor on-going maintenance at the sites.  For these services the private-sector management company receives a percentage of the rent.

The hosting school receives 15% of the FCPS income. The remaining 85% is used by the school system to fund emergency preparation technology for the Office of Safety and Security, Department of Information Technology projects and administrative technology devices.

Monopoles Owned by Private Telecommunications Companies

The hosting school receives a one-time fee for the initial monopole and cell service provider installation. Subsequent cell service providers co-locating to the monopole also pay a one-time site access fee to the school.

FCPS receives recurring monthly rents from the cell service providers.  The rents are escalated annually per the terms of the respective lease agreement. On existing cell service provider leases, 40% of the rent is retained by FCPS and 60% is retained by the private-sector telecommunications company who owns and maintains the monopole and, manages the cell service provider leases.  On cell service provider leases executed after 2012, 45% is retained by FCPS and 55% is retained by the private-sector telecommunications company. 

The hosting school receives 15% of the FCPS income. The remaining 85% is used by the school system to fund emergency preparation technology for the Office of Safety and Security, Department of Information Technology and other office technology projects.

Locations of Existing Poles

A total of (29) FCPS school/admin sites host (35) monopoles.  Carriers located on monopoles include AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, Cricket, and Clearwire.  Following is a listing of those sites and the initial installation year of the respective monopole(s):

School/Center Type Monopole Install Year(s)
   
High/Secondary Schools  
Annandale High 2005
Bryant Alternative High 2006
Centreville High (2 Monopoles) 1998, 2009
Chantilly High (2 Monopoles) 2000, 2009
Edison High 2005
Hayfield Secondary 2007
Justice High 2015
Lake Braddock Secondary 2013
Langley High (3 Monopoles) 1996, 1997, 2010
Lee High 2010
Madison High 2011
McLean High 2006
Oakton High 2005
Robinson Secondary 2006
South County High 2009
South Lakes High (2 Monopoles) 1998, 2000
Thomas Jefferson HSST (2 Monopoles) 2001, 2010
Westfield 2019
   
Middle Schools  
Carson Middle 2010
Herndon Middle 2012
Irving Middle 2011
Kilmer Middle 2015
Stone Middle 2013
Thoreau Middle 2011
Twain Middle 2015
   
Elementary Schools  
Westgate Elementary 2000, 2015 (Replacement Monopole)
   
Administrative Centers  
Graham Road Community Building 2013
Lorton Center 1997
Woodson Yard 2007