ROTC program to remain at MTHS for one more year

Thursday, May 31, 2001

Several concerned citizens gathered in the Marked Tree High School Library for a special school board meeting Tuesday night where they learned that Marked Tree School Board approved a recommendation from Superintendent Gary Masters to keep the ROTC program for at least one more year.

In an effort to compromise, Masters addressed those present, asking for a commitment from them to help gather support in the community for a millage increase, continuing, "We have no desire to lose the program."

Due to financial problems, declining enrollment numbers and the facilities need for repairs, the school was forced to make several budget cuts, including several staff members' positions. This put the schools at the state recommended student to teacher ratio, and the district on the road to recovery.

Masters explained that the district's next move is to transfer its non-bonded debt to bonded debt. One reason for doing this is that by transferring the debt, the state will pay 27 percent of the bonded debt. Right now, the state pays nothing on the non-bonded debt.

In order to transfer the debt, Marked Tree citizens must approve a 1.5 mil millage increase. Without the increase, the school will not be able to continue the ROTC program after next year.

The school spends approximately $50,000 a year on the program, paying one half of the ROTC instructos' salaries and benefits. The remaining expenses, which include the other half of the instructors salaries, uniforms, weapons for drilling and audio and video teaching aids, are provided by the U.S. Army.

This year alone, the district lost 70 students, or the equivalent of approximately $300,000. With dwindling enrollment numbers the millage increase is badly needed.

According to Masters, the school will not shut down if the millage does not pass, but the facilities will continue to deteriorate and more programs, such as sports, will be cut.

In other business, the council:

* Went into executive session to except the resignation of Waylon Dunn and reassign the junior cheerleading program to Lou Ann Blagg.

* Approved stipend schedule.

* Approved financial plan to be sent to the State Department.

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