- Associated Press - Monday, February 10, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Des Moines airport official said high school students will be allowed to continue working on aircraft in a hangar despite the expiration of a lease in June.

Airport Authority Board Chairman Ed Hansell told City Council members Monday that the board would make the hangar available while the school district works to build another facility, according to The Des Moines Register (http://dmreg.co/1bOcW2G ).

Des Moines students have learned about aircraft maintenance in a 29,500-square-foot hangar for 40 years, but airport officials didn’t renew a lease because they need the space for corporate clients.

School officials planned to move to a smaller facility, but that would have reduced student participation and faced opposition from parents and others, who called for students to keep using the current facility.

Besides reducing the number of students who could take part in the aviation engineering technology program, supporters argued the switch would cost more money and threatened funding because it could result in a revocation of the program’s federal certification.

Hansell said the airport board wasn’t aware of the district’s concerns until seeing media reports. After learning of the district’s situation, Hansell said he talked with school officials.

The airport board will vote Tuesday on a proposal to let the district “stay in this facility for a longer period of time until they get another facility built, that’s not a problem,” Hansell said.

Des Moines is among only three school districts in the country that are certified by the Federal Aviation Administration to teach aircraft maintenance. Up to 70 students enroll in the Des Moines program annually and can earn college credit or professional certifications.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com