No vote scheduled now on Junior ROTC in Pine-Richland
Share with others:
The future of the Pine-Richland Air Force Junior ROTC program is far from secure but there will not be an immediate vote to curtail its existence.
A crowd of participants and parents beseeched the school board last week to provide assurance that the program will survive any future budget cuts.
While the board did not give that assurance, members indicated an immediate vote would not be taken on the program's future.
School director Peter Lyons favors voting now on the program, but the board decided to evaluate it as part of a full budget discussion. That won't begin in earnest until later in the school year.
Mr. Lyons, who supports ending the program, raised the issue in the summer. He wanted to discuss the matter early enough to meet the U.S. Air Force's stated requirements of a year's notice before ending the program.
Mr. Lyons suggested that the enrollment is below the target level of 100 students, with about 66 students participating this year.
Board member Therese Dawson countered that enrollment may not be a true indicator of interest levels because of the perennial talk of eliminating the program.
"I think we lost potential enrollment because we keep talking about ending it," she said, referring to previous budget discussions during which a range of program cuts -- including the Air Force ROTC -- were discussed by the board.
Enrollment in the program rose from 43 last year to 66 this year. Director Laura Ohlund pointed out that the cost of running the program is no more with 66 students than with 100.
Mr. Lyons said he believes the cost of $1,900 per student participant is too high in the current economic climate. But Ms. Dawson countered that if the per-student cost were to be evaluated for this program, it should be evaluated for all programs so that a proper context could be gleaned.
Assistant superintendent David Foley said administrators last year did not recommend that the program be cut.
Students and parents addressed the board, speaking of the values taught by the program from leadership and discipline to academics and patriotism.
Director Dennis Sundo brought the discussion to an end by securing an agreement that no immediate decision would be made but warning that a discussion of the program's future is sure to come up by spring when budget talks are at their height.
The program was begun in August 2010. It is divided into two sections: aerospace science and leadership/management. The aerospace science program covers flight history, dynamics, rocketry and space exploration.
The leadership and management aspects explore the foundations of government, the U.S. Constitution and personal conduct.
Cadets take one class a day with the program and wear a dress blue uniform every Wednesday.
In addition to classroom work, the cadets learn to march in formation and form a color guard, a four-member contingent that presents the national and state flags, flanked by cadets holding weapons.
First Published October 11, 2012 5:15 am