RICHMOND -- De Anza High School wants to start a Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program next fall to add an array of opportunities for students at the school, according to Principal Bob Evans.
Evans has been working on the concept since fall 2012 and said it can instill a sense of personal responsibility, accomplishment and the values of citizenship in students.
West Contra Costa schools trustees greeted the idea with enthusiasm at Wednesday evening's board meeting, with board President Charles Ramsey suggesting that a De Anza ROTC unit be a pilot program for other high schools in the district.
"We should have a full spectrum of opportunity and make sure there is something in each school for every student," Ramsey said.
Evans said De Anza is at the top of a list of high schools nationwide that have applied to the U.S. Air Force wing of the federal Junior ROTC program for next fall. According to the Air Force website, the objectives of its program are "to educate and train high school cadets in citizenship, promote community service, instill responsibility, character and self-discipline, and provide instruction in air and space fundamentals."
The district would be required to pay the $100,000 annual cost for the first three years, with the government paying for the program after that if it is successful, Evans said.
The money would go to pay instructors and provide uniforms, using the school's existing classrooms for instruction and athletic fields for drills.
Evans said he has a goal of enrolling 60 students from each of the school's four classes in the program.
Trustee Madeline Kronenberg said the promise for increased state funding of district operations gives West Contra Costa the ability "to add in things we should have had."
"We are no longer in cutback mode," she said. "It's a great opportunity."
While trustees are upbeat about state funding increases, they are simultaneously dealing with a gap in federal subsidies this year for improvements to classroom technology because of sequestration, Ramsey said.
The district has made up for the loss of the subsidies by spending $9 million from the $40 million in technology investment authorized by bond Measure E, passed in November 2012, he said.
The money has been spent to install wireless access in 26 schools and provide teachers with laptop computers, digital projectors and document cameras to enhance their instruction, said trustee Todd Groves, who serves on the district's technology committee.
"We would like to build something with the bond money that's beyond the baseline, but these things are what we have to do," Groves said. "These are high priorities."
Groves said the district staff is writing a technology plan that will be presented to the board for approval in March.
"(The plan) will specify our technology goals and our pathway to getting there that supports our overall strategic plan," he said.