Airport Board Extends Lease with High School Aviation Program
February 11, 2014
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  • A high school aviation program will have until Aug. 31, 2015 to move out of a hanger at the Des Moines International Airport.

    The airport authority board this morning voted to extend the program’s lease after parents and school officials raised concerns that moving out of the hanger sooner could kill the program.

    The Des Moines public school program allows students to earn college credit and professional certifications. Des Moines is one of only three school districts nationwide that offer it.

    The lease had been set to expire this August. Airport officials had declined to renew the program’s lease, saying the hanger was an ideal place to expand corporate jet storage.

    The school district is looking to build a $2.5 million hanger near McCombs Middle School.

    Update (10:20 a.m.): Des Moines airport officials just approved a contract to privatize the airport’s fire department, despite protests from union leaders and a city councilman.

    The labor fight erupted last month when the airport announced plans to hire Pro-Tec Fire Services, a private airport firefighting company, to replaced unionized firefighters from the Iowa Air National Guard. The guard is set to dissolve its fire department later this year when its F-16 fighter jets are moved elsewhere and military flights cease at the airport.

    An amendment requiring one paramedic on-duty at all times was added to the contract address the concerns of Des Moines Fire ChiefJohn Tekippe. The contract had called for the fire department to staff EMTs, which have lower level of medical training.

    Tekippe had expressed concerns that Des Moines firefighters could be called to the airport more often fore medical issues if no paramedics were staffed there.

    City councilman Skip Moore asked the airport board to delay the decision.

    Airport officials said they needed to approve the contract so Pro-Tec would be in place when the guard fire department leaves.

    Original post (9:07 a.m.): There’s a full docket this morning for the Des Moines International Airport Authority Board.

    The board is expected to vote on a controversial new contract with a private firefighting company . Union officials representing Iowa Air National Guard firefighters who have served the airport have protested the contract.

    The board is also expected to vote to extend the lease for a Des Moines high school aviation engineering program. The lease was set to expired later this year as airport officials saw the hanger used by the aviation program as an ideal spot to expand corporate jet storage.

    And finally, the board is scheduled to select a new airport executive director. Assistant executive director and general manager Kevin Foley is expected to be picked to replace Don Smithey who is retiring later this week.