The Van Alstyne Independent School District board of trustees gave the go-ahead for Superintendent John Spies to pursue contract negotiations with Nextlink internet provider. The board approved the decision at its regular board meeting on Monday, after hearing a presentation from Assistant Superintendent David Brown.

“We talked several months ago about a radio signal lease that we have,” Spies said in the meeting. “… A vendor had been going out and getting bids for some air frequencies that are owned by the district, and we can lease those out.”

The school district had discussed leasing these frequencies in the past and decided to move forward with leasing under the condition that the agreement benefits the district and the community.

Brown told the board in the meeting that the school district had been approached by Texoma Communications, based in Sherman, to lease the air frequencies with an upfront payment of $18,231 and a starting monthly payment of $1,290. That amount would increase by 4 percent each year, with the maximum lease term reaching 15 years. Texoma Communications also offered internship positions to Van Alstyne students.

In the end, Brown said, the district would see about $338,000 in payments.

Then he presented the district with a choice.

“As we (the district) were talking to him (Texoma Communications), … Nextlink’s vice president called us up and said ‘Hey, we’re getting ready to move into the area, would y’all be interested?’” Brown said to the board.

He explained that Nextlink is based out of Oklahoma, but that he was told they’d be ready to come to Grayson County in the third quarter of next year. Brown began discussions with Nextlink about leasing the frequencies, with Nextlink paying $25,000 up front and monthly payments of $1,500. Nextlink would also have a 15-year period and a 4 percent annual increase, and would also offer internships. Nextlink’s offer also included a 50 percent inflation discount to all Van Alstyne faculty, 50 percent installation discounts and discounted rates to all nonprofit organizations. Payments to Van Alstyne would be about $400,000 with Nextlink.

A difference between the two, Brown said, was that Texoma Communications could begin service within six months, and Nextlink would begin in about 12. The speeds for both, however, would be about the same.

“Both of these, I think do some of the things we’d like to do, and then the money is pretty close,” Brown said. “… They both give a little to the district, they give something to the students, and they both provide a service to the community to where it benefits everybody, compared to when we were looking at it before with just a money side of it without any other benefits to the community or students.”

Spies pointed out to the board that the amounts the district would lease the frequencies out for was something to pay attention to.

“$1,500 doesn’t sound like a lot, but then you look at it over 15 years and then you also compound that 4 percent,” Spies said.

Brown said if a person lives within the school district, he or she should be able to receive the internet service.

“Basically … you’ve got interns with both, Texoma says they’ll be over in six months, the other in 12 months, you’re basically getting better basically employee district discounts, small business discounts for service,” Board President Randall Morgan summed up. “Looking at it you’ve got maybe the bigger group offering a few more things, a little more money in the end, or you’ve got the local folks up north.”

In the end, the board decided to pursue the benefits offered with Nextlink. The board approved for Spies to pursue contract negotiations and agreements with Nextlink for the air frequency lease.