Legislation to exempt high school JROTC instructors from across-the-board 8 percent government salary reductions enacted last year was signed into law this week, according to a statement from Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, who sponsored the measure.
The pay-cuts were enacted by the Legislature last year to try to avert major layoffs due to an ongoing fiscal crisis.
Hansen and JROTC officials raised the issue in April, at which time there were conflicting reports from different federal offices on whether the pay cuts posed a problem.
Since then, James E. Knauff Jr., a JROTC chief based at the U.S. Army Cadet Command in Savannah, Ga., wrote a letter to Hansen and subsequently told the Source directly that the Department of Defense contract for JROTC instructors calls for 50 percent pay by the federal government and 50 percent pay by the local government and ties their pay level to their military pay at retirement.
Knauff said unless the territory rescinds the reductions it would lose the Junior ROTC programs at St. Croix Educational Complex, St. Croix Central High School, and Ivanna Eudora Kean High School on St. Thomas. As many as 800 students participate in JROTC, according to Hansen's office.
Senate President Ronald Russell and Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen confirmed Knauff was correct in a teleconferenced meeting with U.S. Defense Department officials.
The cost of restoring pay will be roughly $77,000, according to testimony by Management and Budget Director Debra Gottlieb.
The bill was signed into law June 12, according to the Legislature's bill tracking system.
“I look forward to notifying the Department of the Army about our new law as we barely made the Department’s deadline for contract compliance," Hansen said in a statement. "This is great news for our entire Virgin Islands,” she said.