Brighton High School will not have its own Junior ROTC (Reserve Officer’s Training Corps.) program in the coming year.

Former Board of Education member John Conely last year urged the district to adopt a JROTC program, saying it teaches self-discipline, responsibility, camaraderie, and, especially, patriotism. JROTC is a military program designed to offer high school students leadership experiences and motivate them to become better citizens, combining classroom instruction with service to their school and community, along with extracurricular and social activities and the chance to take on leadership roles.

Brighton had seriously explored the possibility of adding a JROTC program to the curriculum, but a survey of students and parents revealed that interest was not high enough, with a minimum enrollment requirement of 100 students. The JROTC program also would not come cheaply, with an estimated cost to the district of $150,000 per year.

The survey was sent out to 2,539 parents and students (grades 7-11) to determine the amount of interest in establishing a JROTC program in Brighton. Out of 227 student responses, 71% indicated no interest, 19% slight interest, 8% moderate interest and only 1.7% denoted a strong interest. Of the 502 parental responses, 66% indicated no interest, 16% slight interest, 12% moderate interest, and 7% strong interest (percentages rounded off). Conely, who had pushed hard to establish a JROTC program, initially said he is, in his words, “grateful they are having a program,” but then did a partial about-face by saying, “I’m supporting a full program, not a watered-down version.”

While the Brighton Area Schools will not offer its own program, it will allow interested students to sign up for the Air Force ROTC program at nearby Howell High School (pictured), something Brighton officials have been working on in cooperation with Howell Public School officials. Supt. Greg Gray says the only cost to Brighton will be the loss of the state per-pupil aid for the amount of time the Brighton students are in a Howell classroom. The per-pupil state aid for Brighton is $7,871 per student per year. Gray says losing just a portion of the class day will have a minimal impact on the Brighton district’s financial picture, with Brighton expected to end the current fiscal year with a healthy fund balance of about $5 million.

There will be no cost to Brighton students who sign up for the program except for their transportation, which the students themselves will be responsible for providing. Gray says it will work best for the students’ schedules if they either take the course at the beginning or end of the school day. (TT/JK)