EUGENE, Ore. — The National Guard does a lot of its training in our communities as part of its Innovative Readiness Training program, or IRT. But one of its local ventures is drawing questions.
As part of the application process, a public entity or nonprofit has to make a public announcement about the proposed project to give local contractors a chance at the job.
Oak Hill School, a nonprofit private school in Eugene, published its notice this week, which had some people asking how a private school could take advantage of a publicly-funded program.
The IRT program is open to any government or 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
“We have nonprofits that come to us. We have public schools, city, county, state government, parks, all different sizes and shapes,” said Capt. Duffy Cavanaugh, Oregon IRT Program Manager.
The program provides a mutual benefit. Those organizations get projects done by the National Guard, and reservists get the training they need while benefiting the community.
“So the innovative part is that we get to go into a community, and we can conduct our training at their site with the benefit of a project to be completed for them,” Cavanaugh said.
Oak Hill School asked the National Guard to level a field on its campus to prepare the area for a future sports complex.
“It’s a project that we’ve wanted to do for a while, but our outdoor spaces and field spaces for things like P.E. are more limited as we continue to grow, so we have not had the funding to invest in that,” said Meghan Booth, Oak Hill School.
“That was a great training opportunity, and it met a lot of our needs,” Cavanaugh said.
The announcement published about Oak Hill’s IRT application raised concerns about why a private school with high tuition would qualify for assistance from a federally-funded program. But Capt. Cavanaugh says Oak Hill qualifies right along with any other school.
“When it comes to this program, it has been open since 1984, for anybody to do this, so it’s not that we’ve had a lack of projects. And here comes Oak Hill and ‘Hey! Let’s do this one.’ It’s the fact that that training, that specific piece is exactly what we’re looking for,” Cavanaugh said.