Trinity director has second thoughts about Junior ROTC program
A Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program that was recently approved by Trinity Area School Board and the school district’s extracurricular eligibility requirements came under scrutiny Thursday night.
School board Director Jennifer Morgan, who voted in favor of the JROTC program that will be implemented in the fall of the 2013-14 school year, said she doesn’t believe she was provided with all of the information about the JROTC program before she made her decision.
Morgan said she was not aware that the school district will need 100 students to sign up for JROTC, a voluntary elective course for students in grades 9 through 12, to receive reimbursement by the U.S. Department of Defense.
If the school district does not meet that requirement, it will open JROTC to students from other school districts.
“I don’t think the whole plan was thought out,” said Morgan, who said she is not opposed to the JROTC but thinks the school district should have conducted a formal student poll or a study before committing to the program. “I feel like it was a sales pitch and we were presented with a best-case scenario, and we rushed into it.”
She also voiced concern that the school district currently is about $550,000 over budget for the 2012-13 school year, noting the program costs $150,000. Superintendent Paul Kasunich contended that the school board members were presented with a thorough overview of the program, which will be taught by Erek Clacks, a retired U.S. Army major who is certified to instruct the course. Clacks was hired in September to teach high school social studies.
When the school district received approval from the U.S. Army to offer the program, Kasunich noted that JROTC provides an opportunity for students to learn leadership skills, community service and hands-on skill sets that will help them in whatever they choose to do.
He also noted that the $150,000 price tag will be attached to next year’s budget. On Thursday, the school board voted 5-3 to hire James Bull to replace Clacks as a social studies teacher, at a salary of $48,613.
During the same motion, directors hired Traci DeGarmo as a Spanish teacher at a salary of $49,013.
Also during the meeting, parents voiced concern about the district’s extracurricular eligibility standards, which require students to maintain a 2.0 grade-point average in each of the four core classes (English, math, social studies and science). They also contend that students who are supposed to receive after-school tutoring instead sit in the library without instruction, which one parent called “detention, not tutoring.”
At Wednesday’s wrestling match, four varsity wrestlers and five middle school wrestlers were unable to participate in the match because they failed to meet the district’s academic eligibility requirement.
According to the parents, at least one of those students has a GPA above 3.0 but has a D in a core class.
The PIAA guidelines call for athletes to be passing at least four full-credit subjects or the equivalent as of each Friday during a grading period.