Henry County ROTC May Be Cut

By: Rhiana Huckins Email
By: Rhiana Huckins Email

Henry County is facing some major financial hardships these days, especially since it has the highest unemployment rate in the Wiregrass.

The school system is starting to feel the crunch from these economic woes.

Last week at the Henry County School Board Meeting, there was talk of cutting back on the ROTC program.

"What we're talking about as a school board is looking and seeking for additional funding sources to sustain the ROTC program," Henry Co. Schools Superintendent Dennis Coe said.

Running the program in both Abbeville and Headland High Schools costs $480,000 dollars a year.

The funds go toward instructor salaries, supplies, and field trips.

Students of ROTC say the program is valuable.

"Without ROTC, I wouldn’t have as many friends that I have. I wouldn't have the opportunities that I have now for college and job outlooks,” ROTC Sr. Commanding Officer John Bexley said.

"You learn citizenship, you're proud of your country, because you see what it takes to be in the military," added Chelsea Crawford, an ROTC executive officer.

Thirty percent of Abbeville High students are involved with their ROTC program, and officials would hate to see it die.

"We do want to keep both units, but if the economic conditions in the county don't change somewhere down the road, we're going to get to the point where we can't sustain the program," Coe continued.

Reading, math or science couldn't possibly be cut from the program, but an elective such as ROTC could be.

"That is the last resort. I'm not trying to demean the program or water down its quality or importance to society; it benefits the children of Henry County,” Coe concluded.

Superintendent Coe told us Tuesday morning he flew to Washington D.C. to meet with Alabama congressional delegations to talk about additional funds.

Another option would be to look for corporate sponsors.

Henry County's program is the second oldest running ROTC program in the state, operating for nearly 40-years.

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