The Creston School Board is caught between a rock and a hard place — or in this case between a scenic view and a hardly adequate internet connection for students and teachers.
Creston Principal Tami Ward estimates that as many as 100 devices may be accessing the internet at once on a daily basis throughout the school year, yet the wireless service that the school has been able to afford is inadequate to keep up with that demand.
That means that the Creston School could well be the poster child for the much touted national campaign to improve broadband to rural areas in order to ensure equal access to the opportunity, knowledge and technology inherent in the World Wide Web.
Therefore, when MontanaSky Networks, the Kalispell-based internet service provider, approached the school board about installing a wireless internet tower on school property at no expense to the district, the board seized on the chance. It would mean significantly better internet service at no cost for the school’s students, and would also provide a small revenue stream for the district.
So what could be wrong with that?
Turns out that some folks think a narrow 118-foot tower will harm their view of the sky and the mountains, which they value more highly than the children’s education.
We disagree. Individuals sometimes have to put up with some inconvenience or to sacrifice some niceties (such as a great view) for the higher good. That was true 100 years ago when radio stations like KGEZ were building tall antennas in order to connect the Flathead Valley to the rest of the world, and it is just as true today. What would have happened to Holland if the locals had organized against windmills? How about the modern wind turbines that are seen as a viable source of alternative energy? Are they to be banned as well?
There is also the question of whether wireless technology is somehow dangerous to humans. Well, it’s a bit late to be asking that question because we are surrounded by cell towers, radio and TV signals, and multiple other waves and frequencies that society has deemed valuable to the common good.
Let’s not ban for one small school what the rest of us take for granted. We hope that the Creston community will rally behind their school and their students and opt for the 21st century education that they deserve.