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JROTC saved after San Francisco School District reverses course on plans to cut the program

Amber Tang, a Balboa High School student and JROTC cadet, poses for a portrait inside her school on Friday, July 8, 2022, in San Francisco, Calif. | Constanza Hevia H. for The Standard

San Francisco school officials will restore the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at three high schools previously slated for cuts despite outside funding, the district said on Monday.

Mission, Balboa and Galileo high schools will offer the program again in the fall after the U.S. Army came through with the funding needed. The San Francisco Unified School District reversed course after casting doubt last week on the possibility of the program returning to those three schools—all on the east side— in the fall. 

The change of course comes after students expressed disappointment in SFUSD being slow to take the Army’s offer.

“JROTC is one of many important programs in our high schools that can make a significant difference in the lives of our students,” Superintendent Matt Wayne said. “We are planning to offer the program again in the fall at Balboa, Galileo and Mission and are working with the schools and the Army to finalize the details.”

Students and instructors appealed to the Army, which offered in May to provide funding for 13 instructors for two years. Typically, the Army covers half the salary and SFUSD covers the other half plus benefits. 

A pamphlet about the JROTC program is attached to a light pole outside Balboa High School on Friday, July 8, 2022, in San Francisco, Calif. | Constanza Hevia H. for The Standard

But SFUSD estimated it would cost $350,000 to cover benefits not in the budget approved in June after several months under state watch. District spokesperson Laura Dudnick also noted that the class schedules had already been created.

George Washington, Lowell and Abraham Lincoln high schools—campuses on the west side of the city—were not poised to cut the program. The Army funding does not apply to Phillip and Sala Burton Academic High School, which runs a naval JROTC slated for cuts. 

A host of students have voiced support for the program. Amber Tang, a senior at Balboa High School, said she is “so grateful” to see the program restored.

“I’m more than happy for upcoming students that now have the opportunity to join JROTC,” Tang said in a text. “I can’t imagine what the program will become like in the incoming years with the support of everyone around us and the future cadets that will take charge of the program.”

The controversial program has faced past attempts to shutter the program in SFUSD, all of which failed. It faced new controversy over the weekend after a New York Times investigation found repeated instances of retired military officers preying on its students, with at least 33 instructors charged with sexual misconduct.