The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) North Valley Occupational Center/Aviation Center will continue to operate its training program at a leased Van Nuys facility, now that the FAA has confirmed that its $1-per-year lease is permitted by agency guidelines. The current lease expires on June 30.
The announcement follows months of behind-the-scenes negotiations led by LAUSD board member Nury Martinez, Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Van Nuys) and others to retain the LAUSD Aviation Center at Van Nuys Airport, where the lease cost had outstripped the school’s budget.
“The program is about 40 years old and over the years has been an important training facility for aircraft mechanics, many of them hired locally. There’s an established relationship between our local maintenance facilities and the Van Nuys Aviation Center. As far as we know it is now the only public school district program of its kind in the country that trains high-school students for a career as aircraft mechanics,” Jason Levin, a spokesman for LAUSD School Board Member Nury Martinez, told AIN. “[The facility is] an important jobs engine for the San Fernando Valley, [and] graduates of the program earn marketable skills that lead to good, solid, middle-class jobs.”
The program’s airframe and powerplant mechanics school offers a reasonably priced two-year course to train students to repair helicopters and small airplanes. Earlier this week, Martinez and Cardenas announced a $100,000 donation made to the center by local business owners and philanthropists Si and Betty Robin, and implored FAA officials to work toward a long-term solution.
“I am pleased to see that the FAA is listening to the San Fernando Valley and that it is taking swift action,” said Martinez. “For more than 40 years the Aviation Center has been a critical jobs generator, offering a pathway to stable, middle-class jobs for Valley students. We are one step closer now to its operating at the Van Nuys Airport for another 40 years.”