SANTA FE – Santa Fe school officials have decided to cut ties with the National Rifle Association, agreeing to no longer accept money or equipment from the organization.
The five-member school board voted unanimously Tuesday to reject NRA grant money that has supported the district’s junior ROTC program.
“We think it’s a good move because we don’t think school districts, not just ours, but anywhere should be taking funds from the NRA,” Steven Carrillo, the board’s president, said.
Opponents to the decision said the board would be making a political move and would be dragging the junior ROTC program into the middle of the complex debate.
The district received about $4,000 worth of equipment from the NRA over the past several years.
The program teaches leadership and military skills to students. The junior ROTC students have competed in several local, state and national competitions, including earning top honors in a national marksmanship championship earlier this year.
“Support from the NRA has allowed our program to get quality equipment that has turned these kids into national champions in a very short time,” Lt. Commander Craig Stapleton said, who oversees the program.
District Board members said anonymous donors have agreed to cover the grant money for at least two years.
The NRA sent a statement ahead of the vote Tuesday, saying its funding for the district is raised locally.
“The school board would punish a program such as JROTC, which teaches leadership and develops character among local youth, just to make a political point,” NRA spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen said. “The school board should be made to absorb the costs of this program out of their own budget.”