L.A. Council Urges Free Rent At Van Nuys Airport To Save Mechanics School

In a bid to keep alive a valuable aviation mechanic training program at Van Nuys Airport, the Los Angeles City Council on Friday urged the Department of Airports to provide free rent to the school district. “This is a classic middle-class escalator,” Councilman Eric Garcetti said. “These are folks in our community who are given a good trade. These are skilled workers who help us attract and keep companies here in the city.”

The Los Angeles Unified School District has threatened to close down the Aviation Center at Van Nuys Airport because of the cost of the program and the monthly rent of $12,000 it has to pay to Los Angeles World Airports.

Garcetti, a candidate for mayor, said the city should step up to help save the program and the jobs it creates. Councilwoman Jan Perry, who also is running for mayor, said she supported the Garcetti proposal, but added a proposal that would require LAWA to get information to its tenant airlines about hiring the graduates.

“This would guarantee almost 100 percent employment and allow us to be strategic in job creation,” Perry said.

LAWA spokesman Mark Adams said the agency has been talking with LAUSD officials and is seeking to work with them.

“We need a business plan from them to provide background information on what they need so we can get permission from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) to approve this,” Adams said.

The two-year training course, which is open to high school students, has about 100 students per semester.

Kenn Phillips of the Valley Economic Alliance said businesses have come together to support the program.

“They have a 92 percent graduation rate and nearly all of them find jobs immediately,” Phillips said. “They start out making $22 a hour and that’s about $45,000 a year. Within five years, they are making between $65,000 and $80,000 a year. These are the kind of jobs we want to keep in the city.”