CLASS DISMISSED: Aviation Program Could Lose Facility

It’s the coolest classroom in the Des Moines School District.

Instead of writing on a blackboard or sitting at a desk, high school students like Soren Lundberg are constantly on the move.

“There are a wide variety of planes you can work on,” said Lundberg.

The skills he’s learning in his aircraft maintenance class can lead to a rewarding career.

“Most of the students go on to universities and get engineering degrees or go to pilot school and complete pilot training,” said Bob Dickson, a volunteer with the program.

Dickson helps teach the class and fears it could soon be available to fewer students.

The Des Moines School District leases its current facility from the airport and the contract is set to expire in June.

The Airport Authority Board says it has other plans for the valuable land the building occupies.

“Last year it became apparent they no longer wanted us on the property,” said Tom Ahart, Superintendent of the Des Moines Public School District.

In a pinch, the district signed a lease last summer on a much smaller property at the airport.

However, Ahart says it won’t be ready by August to meet standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The move could also cost the district its FAA certification to teach aircraft maintenance.

“We definitely want to keep the program going. They’re job ready when they leave the program,” said Ahart.

Ahart says the district is exploring several options including building a new facility near airport grounds.

Soren Lundberg is hopeful this program stays put.

“It’s a great start for getting into an aviation field or is looking for something else to do in high school,” said Lundberg.

It’s not a done deal.

Ahart says he plans to work with the airport authority board to keep the facility at least another year.

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