The Salem-Keizer Career Technical Education Center will have a new program after the Salem-Keizer School Board unanimously approved plans to purchase an airport hangar at McNary Field at Tuesday’s school board meeting.
The property, located at 3080 25th St. NE in Salem, will house a new aviation maintenance program, an extension of the current drone program, that is scheduled to begin in the fall.
CTEC Principal Rhonda Rhodes did foresee some possible delays. As they experienced with the opening of the other CTEC classrooms, some parts of the building may not be ready to go at the start of the fall semester. But, with the size of the property, she doesn;t anticipate a delay to the start of the program.
Online listings for the property have it listed for $1.875 million for the 16,590 square foot building.
The building being located at Salem Airport provides many advantages, according to the presentation given to the school board. Beyond the layout of the building itself, there is a depth of experience and aviation maintenance on site, as well as a wealth of community support.
In the presentation to the school board, Superintendent Christy Perry addressed the question of whether there was an actual need for the program.
According to the information she presented, the current pipeline and training facilities is only able to fill 38% of the needed aviation maintenance workers. Between now and 2040, 610,000 more workers will be needed, and the industry will be short 30,000 workers by 2031 just on the commercial side of the industry.
And the interest is there for the program.
In a survey of 254 students from six area high schools, 43% said they had a definite interest in attending the aviation program. Another 34% said they would possibly be interested with more information.
Perry did say that they would be able to extend the lease with the city to a 30 year lease. The current cost for the ground lease is $13,000 per year, according to Perry. An FAA regulation does not allow a city owned ground lease to be given away.
Funding for the purchase will come from a combination of foundations, donations and grant funding.