The National Rifle Association (NRA) awards grants to Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) groups around the country, but Byers Hickmon, Lieutenant Commander at Eastside High School, said the school does not plan to apply for more NRA grants anytime soon.
In Alachua County, there are three schools with JROTC programs: Eastside, Buchholz, and Gainesville High School. EHS and GHS both received NRA funding for their JROTC as recently at 2013.
JROTC programs are linked to the Army, Air Force, Navy or Marines. Some of the deciding factors when choosing whether to establish a JROTC program are size of each school and general interest.
At the district level, Everett W. Caudle, the Director of Grants Acquisition & Special Projects, said there is a specific procedure when it comes to school grants.
“Grants are typically, and by board policy are, supposed to come through this office,” Caudle said. “But in some cases teachers do so on their own.”
Any grant more than roughly $2,000 to $3,000 requires special consideration from the school board, due to possible upkeep adding additional costs. The district school board members, however, can determine which grants schools are not allowed to apply for and which grants to pay off student loans process are available.
Caudle said the grant information is just coming to light due to the current events and political stances.
“They could choose to make a blanket statement that we don’t apply for grants anymore from the NRA or some other group,” Jackie Johnson, spokeswoman for Alachua County Public Schools, said. “But that’s just not something they have discussed at this point.”
The school board pays half of JROTC educators’ salaries, leaving the rest of program’s cost to be covered by the military and the school. Additional expenditures include uniform and competition costs.
“We have had some schools that have won best chapter, best programs in the state or they have earned national recognition for the quality of their programs,” Johnson said. “They have gone to competitions and won awards based on certain categories in those competitions.”
Johnson said competitions are a large part of the JROTC program.