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Why JROTC won’t return to Pahrump Valley

Nye County school officials say they won’t reinstate a JROTC program at Pahrump Valley High School next academic year because there is not enough interest from students and the district can’t afford it.

The school ended its Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program more than two years ago, shortly following the retirement of a key adviser to the program in December 2021.

At the time, school officials said they made the difficult decision to dissolve the federal program sponsored by the U.S. Armed Forces because fewer students were participating.

Officials estimate the district would now have to spend as much as $500,000 to restart the program, which aims to teach students citizenship, leadership, character and community service.

“During the entirety of our PVHS JROTC program, we never met the minimum required student enrollment, and we were almost continuously plagued with staffing issues/turnover/vacancies,” Superintendent Joseph Gent explained in a statement last week.

Funding a JROTC program would cost upward of a half-million dollars in the first year and between $250,000 and $300,000 each subsequent year, he estimated.

“Given the significant financial burden of funding a multi-year JROTC program, coupled with the ongoing confidential personnel issues that have continuously plagued the PVHS JROTC program, I, as the superintendent of the school district, have made and communicated the decision to our school board, district leadership and PVHS administration that we will not, at this time, pursue a JROTC program,” Gent said.

JROTC is often seen as a pipeline to the military because many cadets often enlist following graduation. Gent emphasized that while the district’s leadership comprises “patriotic individuals” who support the military and JROTC programs, he is ultimately accountable for all programs, operations, and finances.

“Having served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps, I am a combat veteran of the Iraq War/Global War on Terrorism,” Gent said. “Each of us has a deep love and appreciation for the United States of America and our freedoms and rights as citizens of the USA.”

But he maintained last week that the program is just no longer feasible.

“I have had several virtual meetings with the chief of JROTC operations, 8th brigade, USACC. For [Nye County schools] to be considered a potential candidate for a future grant-funded JROTC program, we would have to fully fund our own program and meet all the minimum student numbers and staffing requirements for at least three consecutive years,“ he said. “USACC would not guarantee a program but rather allow us to qualify to apply for the competitive grant.”

Gent dispelled misinformation he said was being spread on social media.

“A little over two decades ago, we hired a superintendent who was a retired colonel from the Army. He had connections with the JROTC Operations United States Army Cadet Command (USACC) over our area. Even though NCSD did not meet the minimum criteria to warrant a competitive grant-funded JROTC program, NCSD was able to secure a grant under an agreement that we would meet the minimum required student enrollment and staffing numbers within the first few years of implementation.”

But JROTC USACC pulled the grant from the district.

“Considering we never actually qualified for the grant, we should be extremely grateful to the JROTC USACC for allowing us to have a JROTC program for so many years,” Gent said.

Pahrump Valley JROTC students regularly performed at community parades and other events.

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