Master Sgt. Thomas Short was also approved 9-0, with all board members voting in favor.
Both instructors received one-year employment agreements through June 30, 2016. Through Dec. 31, Curtis will be paid $36,954 and Short will be paid $31,362. After that, a salary adjustment for both will be made through June 30 in accordance with Marine Corps training salary increases for instructors.
Board president MC Knafelc assured the crowd at the start of the meeting that the district supports the program and that it would continue, despite the rumors that instructors wouldn’t be hired.
“We fully intend to continue our JROTC program. We fully intend to hire instructors tonight,” Knafelc said.
“There are procedures for everything and we did follow it,” Knafelc added.
A crowd of JROTC students and parents attended the meeting, and some spoke about the benefits of the program for young cadets. Others questioned why the board wanted to consider increasing the program costs for out-of-district students.
The board is looking at gradually increasing the cost of the program for out-of-district students starting with the 2016-17 school year. The idea is to base the increases on the reimbursement rates individual districts receive from the state.
Knafelc said that it is unfair for Ambridge taxpayers to foot the bill while another school district profits from sending their students here.
“These students that are all-day students, are here all day and they are here for our teachers,” Knafelc said. “If they were going to one of the charter schools, they would be paying the full amount.”
Christy Walker, whose son goes to Hopewell, said she thinks it’s important that the board understands how strong the community feels about the program and the cadets.
She said it’s important that the program continue, but she is concerned that the cost over the years could outprice based on a fee schedule and that school districts such as Hopewell could eliminate the ability for kids to come.
“In the future, I think that’s really detrimental to the community as well as the school district of Ambridge because this is a successful program and very prideful. I understand that there is money, and there needs to be money paid if they’re here all day, but I think it needs to be negotiated with the other schools and it needs to be a fair price.”
Walker said her son, for example, participates in band at his home school and there are other students who do sports.
Jan Barnes, a Hopewell civics teacher, said she has seen first-hand that the program instills pride and discipline in the Hopewell students who attend, as well as an academic impact.
“This is a resource for Beaver County. You are growing a beautiful program here,” she said. “How can the county keep this and nourish it.”
Ambridge district administrators agreed to talk to superintendents, business managers and other out-of-district officials to gather more information before a final decision is made.
Superintendent Cynthia Zurchin thanked the JROTC supporters who attended the board meeting, adding that they bring pride to the program and Beaver County.
“We will all work hard to ensure the JROTC program remains a shining star in the Ambridge Area School District,” Zurchin said.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article stated that Rob Keber voted against Master Sgt. Thomas Short, which was incorrect. Keber voted for Sgt. Short, against Sgt Curtis and against a sabbatical leave for a teacher.