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LAUSD aviation training center future threatened by costs

January 11, 2013 9:15:07 PM PST
Aviation experts will tell you that good mechanics are hard to find. That's why they're upset about the possible closure of a training center run by the Los Angeles Unified School District. The school operates out of a hangar at Van Nuys Airport. It's already cut staff and evening classes.

Thousands of certified aviation mechanics have graduated from the unique course at the aviation mechanics school at Van Nuys Airport. It's operated by the Los Angeles Unified School District. The aviation school's future is threatened without a dramatic reduction in costs.

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Friday to have the airport authority do whatever it can to keep the school open. They support lowering the $12,000 monthly rent for the hangar to $1 per month. The rent is paid to the airport authority, which hasn't made a decision. The decision also will involve the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Closure would threaten Vonja Dangerfield's dream of becoming an aviation mechanic.

"Without this program I don't really see that happening," said Dangerfield. "Because this program is easier financially, it's more affordable."

Jody Stark is a single father of two young girls. This is also his dream.

"This is just perfect for me and I moved down to the Valley specifically to do this," said Stark. "If it closes down I don't know what I'm going to do."

The two-year program costs a student $2,400. The same training at a private school would cost at least $40,000. The school will close without a dramatic reduction in rent.

LAUSD board member Nury Martinez supports the unique aviation mechanic school.

"These students, after they graduate from this school, can make anywhere between $40- to $60,000 as an aviation mechanic, and a lot of these students get imported by the Van Nuys Airport," said Martinez. "So these are exactly what the district as the adult center school should be promoting."

The deadline for coming up with alternatives to keep the school open at Van Nuys Airport is June 30.

Next week a report is scheduled to be submitted to show how this program can be financially sound. Its supporters say it already is. Now it's a question of convincing everyone and talking to the FAA.


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