Air Force Junior ROTC programs ‘too valuable to cut back on’

Rick Wagner • May 7, 2013 at 9:36 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Despite federal sequestration, Air Force Junior ROTC instructors at Sullivan South and Dobyns-Bennett high schools will remain 12-month teachers at least another school year.

The Air Force has suggested those instructors become 10-month employees.

The Navy does not plan to seek a change to 10-month instructors for Naval Junior ROTC, or Reserve Officer Training Corps, programs at Sullivan North, Sullivan East and other area schools, local education officials said.

Upon the recommendation of Sullivan County Director of Schools Jubal Yennie, the Sullivan County Board of Education took no action Monday night on a letter from the Air Force seeking a change in the contract for the two ROTC instructors at South.

Yennie said that means he will send a letter to the Air Force declining its request to amend the contract, which requires a one-year wait before the 12-month status of the instructors can be changed.

Yennie said the BOE would deal with the situation again this time next year when, under terms of the contract, the Air Force would be able to make changes without permission of the local school board.

He said the ROTC programs are doing well, benefiting students and he sees no reason to cut the 12-month contracts.

Under agreements with local school systems, the branches of the armed services pay half the cost of ROTC instructors and the local school systems pick up the other half.

In South’s case, the instructors are Bill Powley and Don Shawyer, while Eric Vogt and Angelo Pellitteri operate the D-B program..

“We are sending notice that we are declining their request to reduce to 10 months next year,” city school system spokesman Andy True said Tuesday.

“The program’s too valuable to cut back on,” True said.” We’re making a statement about the quality of the program.”

The Navy has ROTC programs at Volunteer and Cherokee high schools in Hawkins County.

Sullivan County Board of Education member Todd Broughton and James Wilmoth, instructor of Navy Junior ROTC at North, said Monday night the Navy does not plan to seek a change in the 12-month status of Navy ROTC instructors here and across the country.

Other ROTC programs include Navy programs at Daniel Boone and David Crockett high schools in Washington County and an Army program at Science Hill High in Johnson City.

However, Wilmoth said sequestration is having other effects, including cancellation of a planned Navy aircraft visit to Tri-Cities Regional Airport that had been set for the spring.

Also Monday night, the BOE voted to finalize various policy changes, including one to make the director or the director’s appointee and architect responsible for accepting new construction. The current policy says a board representative and the architect do that.

Broughton voted against the change and has argued a member of the board or at least a board-chosen representative should help make the decision.

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