US WEST wants to pay the Provo School District more than $5,000 a year to put up cell telephone antennas at three schools.

The Provo District Board of Education agreed to the offer Tuesday, with the understanding that at this point the telephone company wants only an option.US WEST is setting up a new cell phone company, US WEST Wireless, but first needs to acquire 168 aerial sites along the Wasatch Front, said Steve Whitaker, a US WEST consultant charged to locate the sites.

Whitaker said the company will be looking at putting up the antennas in Utah County by the second quarter of 1999. Provo School District is one of about half a dozen entities US WEST is considering for sites in the county. The three schools are Timpview High School, Centennial Middle School and Wasatch Elementary School. The antennas would go on the roofs of Timpview and Centennial but would be hidden inside a new, heftier flagpole at Wasatch, Whitaker said.

The lease would be for $5,580 a year for five years with the option to renew for four five-year periods. Both US WEST and the school district will retain the right to opt out of the agreement with a 12-month notice to the other, said Vaughn Hawkes, district purchasing agent.

Whitaker said the lease was higher than typical cell phone aerial leases.

The new flagpole at Wasatch school, at 45 feet high, would be higher than the current flagpole, yet not interfere with the school's daily flag-raising ritual, he said.

The company must act within the next 12 months to keep the agreement alive and must gain approval from each school principal before the antennas can be constructed.