School Board Approves JROTC Program for Eastern Loudoun

A wing of Dominion High School will house a second Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program, following a unanimous vote tonight by the Loudoun County School Board.

Space at Dominion in Sterling will open up in 2018 when the Academy of Science moves out and into the new Academies of Loudoun. With the board’s go-ahead this week, work to redesign the space will begin in the coming months, followed by a bid process, and the space will be renovated next summer to have the National Defense Cadet Corps program ready for students by the start of the 2018-2019 school year.

Right now, the county operates a Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program out of Loudoun County High School in Leesburg. The program is open to any high schooler in the county, but most of its cadets live in the Leesburg area because the school system does not provide transportation for students who opt for specialty programs outside of their home school.

Plus, the program is at capacity, with 206 students enrolled, and many students are turned away each year. Thirty-seven students applied for the 2016-2017 school year, and 25 were accepted.

“This is something that has been voiced to me for years,” Debbie Rose (Algonkian) said. “The decision to do this is a great thing for the eastern side of the county.”

A few board members, including Brenda Sheridan (Sterling), voiced support for providing bus service to students who enroll in JROTC. “We won’t be servings students if we can’t get them there,” Sheridan said.

School Board members Joy Maloney (Broad Run) and Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) ultimately supported opening a JROTC program at Dominion, but they both offered a word of caution. They said that space could one day be needed for regular classrooms, should enrollment tick up at Dominion or neighboring Potomac Falls High School.

“We do not want to be hearing next year from Pot Falls parents that they’re overcrowded and need trailers or to be rezoned,” Maloney said.

“Once we put in a program there it is very difficult to adjust and move it,” Hornberger added.

Rose, whose district includes Dominion and Potomac Falls, said she hasn’t heard complaints about crowding at Potomac Falls. “And there’s no new development in that area in the near future. … We’re good for now.”

Loudoun has relatively few offerings for young people interested in military careers. Loudoun has 78,348 public school students and just the one Navy JROTC program, while Prince William County has 89,000 students and nine programs (four Air Force, two Army, two Navy and one Marine); Chesterfield County has 60,000 students and five programs; Fairfax County has 187,467 students and eight programs; and Virginia Beach has 69,345 students and five programs, all Navy.

It’s estimated to cost about $400,000 to renovate the nine classrooms at Dominion into space for a JROTC program, and another $400,000 in annual instructional costs.

dnadler@loudounnow.com
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4 thoughts on “School Board Approves JROTC Program for Eastern Loudoun

  • 2017-06-14 at 7:26 am
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    Outstanding decision. The School Board got this completely correct. Western Loudoun… coming soon.

  • 2017-06-14 at 2:40 pm
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    JROTC is a great idea but there is one huge error in this article. Potomac Falls is already over crowded. It opened in 1997 for between 1200 and 1400 students. The current student population is at 1700 and expected to grow in 2017. PFHS added 2 trailers last year and because of over crowding and next year PFHS is shifting the schedule around drastically to accommodate the huge increase in students. This previous year there were several class periods where EVERY class in the building was in use and small group testing for IEPs occurred in the cafeteria. If Debbie Rose hasn’t heard the PFHS is crowded then she isn’t listening.

  • 2017-06-15 at 12:18 pm
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    Potomac Falls is woefully overcrowded. Program capacity for the school is 1397 and school profile indicates 1,657 students, an overage of 260 students. Next year’s freshman class is one of the largest to enter with prediction of the school to be over 1700 students. Current CIP shows overages of 112-120% which only utilizes building counts and not the actual ones where you have multiple families living in the homes. Maybe the LCPS should look at the special exceptions at PFalls which also add to the over crowding.

    Support areas such as the cafeteria, gym, library, and weight room are overcrowded.The school has to have 4 lunches to accommodate all the students such that students attend class for 30 minutes, go to lunch and then come back and finish class. How about English class in a art room where students sit at art table and minimal access to computers. Not the best way to actually be taught. Think that the 2 trailers in the back has made dent, think again. Either dump 8-10 more trailers or build out the school.

    Kind of sad that our own school board member has no clue at the overcrowding. Too bad the rest of the school board didn’t listen to Maloney (btw, it’s Pfalls or Potomac Falls, not POT falls which is a derogatory term) or Hornberger before proceeding with a vote. Debbie Rose, I implore you to ask any teacher, administrator or families about how overcrowded we are. NO! we are not good! The question I have to ask is why we actually have to complain vs. you looking at your own CIP and communicating with staff at the school before making this decision. And while a JROTC program is beneficial, it shouldn’t be put in at the expense of Potomac Falls or Park View (which is also over crowded). Must it always be the squeaky wheel gets the grease? Potomac Falls community, School Board member Debbie Rose needs to hear from you, debbie.rose@lcps.org.

  • 2017-06-22 at 10:35 pm
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    Actually- I understand the numbers and capacity issues quite well. Here is a reply I recently gave to another constituent: Building capacity and enrollment projections are complex. Currently, Potomac Falls has a building capacity of 1438 with the 2 trailers and an enrollment of 1671 which puts the school at 119% capacity. Without any changes, it is expected that Potomac Falls enrollment will trend down in the next several years bringing it to around 116% capacity. The current over enrollment is about 233 students and that number is expected to go down. Dominion High School has a building capacity of 1423 with AOS on site. It has 1527 enrolled so it is currently at 111% over capacity. When AOS leaves and if all the space were returned to classroom use, DHS would have a building capacity of 1671 and with expected enrollments would remain at 91% capacity-about 145 students under. Park View is also at capacity. The expected developments around the mall, Cascades Overlook and Kinkora will put pressure on Park View’s capacity. Broad Run is in the 80% range of capacity after the last rezoning in Ashburn. Boundaries are always an option. But, people should understand the domino effect and the fact that 9 people vote on where boundaries are drawn. Almost none of the development will impact Potomac Falls or Dominion given their current attendance zones. Those enrollments should be fairly stable and predictable. Boundary processes are hard and no one wants to change schools. Between Potomac Falls and DHS, the question is whether the community disruption and uncertainty of boundary lines is worth the benefit of moving 100 students or so from one school to another. That is why I stated that “we were good for now”. Potomac Falls should start to have lower enrollments and the NJROTC program at Dominion will provide benefits to the Eastern Loudoun schools- also helping with capacity.

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