Football has always been an integral part of student life at Almaden Valley’s Leland High School. Its alumni include Brent Jones of the San Francisco 49ers and Dan Lloyd of New York Giants. The school’s field is named for another famous alum, Pat Tillman, who turned down a lucrative contract with the Arizona Cardinals to enlist and fight in Afghanistan. Tillman’s death from friendly fire was the subject of a book by Jon Krakauer and the critically acclaimed film The Tillman Story.

But even Leland is suffering from budget cuts. In an effort to recoup some funding, the local school board agreed to replace the flag pole beside the scoreboard with a T-Mobile cell phone tower. In return, the school will receive $2,000 a month for the next five years, for a total of $120,000. The city has already approved the permit.

This has some parents up in arms. “To risk 3,000 plus students’ health for the unknown health effects of a cell tower over $2,000 a month is just an absurd tradeoff in my mind,” says Greg Braley. He notes that the adverse effects could not only impact the health of Leland students, but also students at the adjacent Bret Harte Middle School.

The school board argues that the cell tower is safe and that seven other schools in the city already have cell towers. There is even a cell tower around the corner from the school. What no one seems to be questioning is the issue of removing a flagpole on a sports field dedicated to an American hero who sacrificed his life for his country, and replacing it with a cell phone tower.

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