Jim Clark: A tale of two Bonanza readers
In its September 12 edition, the Bonanza published a guest column headlined “Costs, value of JROTC programs.” It began: “This column is in response to Jim Clark’s column in the September 5 edition of the Bonanza, ‘Furor over Assembly Bill 46 not abating.’”
It was written by retired U.S. Air Force Col. Steven Price, an Incline resident and former JROTC official.
By way of background, Assembly Bill 46 proposed to increase real estate and sales taxes in Washoe County to raise an estimated $20 million per year for the Washoe County School District’s capital account.
The bill did not pass in the legislature but lawmakers did vote to amend it to delegate authority to impose the tax increases to the Washoe County Commission where the matter is currently being debated.
As part of a series of columns on this subject my September 5 piece included verbatim excerpts of an email from Bonanza reader Ken Hubbart who had analyzed the published Washoe County School District budget in great detail.
In commenting on categories of the budget that did not appear to be earmarked for academic instruction Mr. Hubbart singled out, among others, a budget item of $2,207,400 for ROTC instructors.
He asked: “Is this course necessary?” Mr. Hubbart’s overall analysis was consistent with my conclusion that the K-12 budget contains $39+ million more than last year’s budget. He agrees with me that they should spend some of that excess to maintain their buildings and not try to raise taxes to raise just $20 million.
Col. Price’s guest column told of his history with the JROTC program, his experience with its costs and the inestimable value of the program to its participants. He opined that, based on his experience, the $2+ million budget for ROTC instructors seemed high.
That could be, but we don’t have any more detail from the school district. However, as Col. Price points out, there are currently 11 JROTC programs in Washoe County high schools, so the budget would amount to just a little over $200,000 per school.
Since, as Col. Price has told us, each such program has a senior officer and a senior enlisted person, approximately half of whose salaries are paid by their military services, the figure seems pretty reasonable considering other operating expenses such as uniforms, etc.
Here’s where Col. Price and I absolutely agree: The JROTC program is a real bargain for taxpayers’ education buck. The students learn leadership, discipline, government, character development, espirit d’ corps and citizenship (cadets must find and serve in public service opportunities within their communities as part of their training).
Col. Price told readers: “I estimate 20 of my seniors garnered 4-year college ROTC scholarships at great universities including Cal Berkeley, USC and UCLA. Another 10 percent of graduating seniors enlisted in the military. Nearly all who stayed for four years went on to a two or four year college.”
Although my high school did not offer JROTC, I did join the Navy ROTC program at Cal Berkeley, graduated as a commissioned officer and spent 32 years on active and inactive duty with the Navy, retiring in 1992 when I moved to Incline Village.
As a retiree I receive a pension, and my wife and I both enjoy Tri-Care medical coverage, military exchange/commissary privileges, and the right to fly anywhere in the world on military air craft if space is available.
So kids (and parents) should think long and hard about their future, the incredible opportunities the JROTC program offers and the benefits it can lead to.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates and has served on the Washoe County & Nevada State GOP Central Committees; he can be reached at email@example.com.
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