Navy ROTC to end

Published 4:11 am Monday, July 25, 2011

Escambia County High School has just one more year to enjoy the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps as part of the school’s offerings to students.

In an announcement made this week by the U.S. Navy, the ECHS class and 28 others across the country will be disestablished effective June 30, 2012.

Escambia County High School has had bragging rights for their unit for several years with a formal inspection just this spring that gave high marks to the students and faculty involved in the program.

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The Navy said the reason for the disbanding of the group at all 29 schools is due to their failure to meet statutory and regulatory minimum student enrollment standards. Basically, not enough students participated to keep the program a viable part of the school.

ECHS officials could not be reached for comment Friday.

Rear Admiral David F. Steindl is commander with the Naval Service Training Command and oversees more than 600 NJROTC units at high schools across the United States. He said the loss of the units is due in part to budget cuts.

“We are extremely proud of what the NJROTC program offers participating students,” Steindl said. “It was important for us to work with each non-compliant high school and continue to support the NJROTC program as long as possible. However, due to projected future funding levels it is no longer possible to maintain NJROTC units that fail to meet minimum enrollment requirements.”

Regulations for the program require that schools with enrollment of 1,000 or more students have a minimum enrollment of 100 in the program.

For schools less than 1,000 enrolled, participation is required at 10 percent of the enrolled population at the school.

The ECHS enrollment last spring was at 38, short of the required participation in the program.

As an alternative, Steindle said qualifying educational facility may apply for a Navy National Defense Cadet Corps unit.

“The NNDCC program is modeled on the NJROTC program but is primarily funded by host schools, Steindl said. “NNDCC units use the NJROTC curriculum and gain the same values of citizenship, service the the United States, personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment as do the cadets in the NJROTC program.”

The NJROTC has been a part of Escambia County High School’s electives offerings for more than five years.