The Loudoun County School Board last week unanimously appointed school Superintendent Robert Butt to his fifth four-year term, making him the longest serving school superintendent in the state, according to school spokesman Molly Converse.
Butt has served as superintendent since 1969. Although the board has approved the concept of a salary increase for Butt, the figure will not be determined until deliberations begin in February, she said. Butt's current salary is $63,000.
The board said it will consider the introduction of a Reserve Officer Training Corps program into county high schools. Board members took the action after listening to a presentation by Navy Capt. Fred Blakewell, who administers an NROTC program at Herndon High School in Fairfax County. Blakewell told the board that Herndon's two-year-old program, which has 145 members, may garner as many as The School Board said it will consider the introduction of a Reserve Officer Training Corps program into county high school. 175 by the end of next year because "it is so well received."
He said, "A few years ago a kid wearing a uniform in school would have been jeered, but attitudes toward the service have changed. Our ROTC are well-respected members of the community, and the uniform itself commands respect." Blakewell told the board that an ROTC student learns self-discipline and leadership; a moderate to high academic achievement level is required to join, he said.
Blakewell encouraged the board to look at ROTC programs offered by all four services. Board chairman Warren Braham said after the meeting that the board will consider the concept for Loudoun schools but "as a former Marine I would like to see their program in here." According to Blakewell, the Marine Corps offers only 79 such programs nationwide, while the Navy has 233, the Army offers 789 and the Air Force has 285.
The two ROTC instructors required by public law must be approved by the service officials. The direct cost to Loudoun schools would be between $18,000 and $24,000 depending on the rank and experience of the officers hired, Blakewell said. Public law also requires a minimum participation of 100 students and 2,950 square feet of space for ROTC classrooms, offices, storage and equipment, including small arms.
According to a school staff report, Loudoun Valley and Park View high schools have sufficient space to offer the program. A recent staff survey of the high schools indicated that 36 percent of the male students and 16 percent of the female students would be interested in joining an ROTC program.
The board also heard Broad Run High School junior Charlton Dunn request that the board screen persons slated to speak at school functions. Dunn complained that a speaker at a Veterans Day memorial service at Broad Run used his time at the podium to deliver an "anticommunist political speech."
Board member Leonard Warner, who said he was present for the service, said he admired Dunn's "participation in the democratic process" but did not agree either with his assessment of the speaker or the student's request that the board screen potential speakers at schools.
"I thought the program was very even-handed," Warner said after the meeting. "And this board can't get into the business of censorship, especially before the fact."
Dunn presented a petition signed by 147 students asking the board to prevent speakers from using school time to present their political views unless asked to do so. "It was inappropriate," Dunn said later. "We were there to honor veterans, not to learn to hate communists."