Student aviation funding ready for approval

March 14th, 2024

By Elaine Allen-Emrich - The Daily Sun


PORT CHARLOTTE — A $1.5 million request from Charlotte County Public Schools for an aerospace hangar and classroom at Charlotte High School is headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his approval.  At Tuesday’s meeting, School Board member Kim Amontree told the crowd about the potential state funding that will help fund a unique aerospace program for Charlotte County students interested in aviation assembly and fabrication.  “This was the best legislative session that we’ve had since I’ve been a board member,” Amontree said. “One reason is the positive conversations we had with many legislators in Tallahassee and at the federal level with Congressman (Greg) Steube. As a result, we have $1.5 million in the budget for Charlotte High Aviation Academy.”

Last month, Steube and others toured Charlotte High School in Punta Gorda and touted the benefits of aviation education.  Steube pledged to support the Charlotte County School Board, Charlotte County government, the Charlotte County Airport Authority, and economic development officials in their efforts to launch the one-of-a-kind program.

Students can earn three credit hours toward an associate of science degree in professional pilot technology, and nine credits toward an AS degree in aerospace technology. The average salary for an aircraft mechanic is $64,150.  While visiting Charlotte High School, which is a few miles from the Punta Gorda Airport, Steube said he hadn’t seen a program like the one proposed for the campus. It would allow students from other high schools to go there for aviation training.  “Kids in high school would have the opportunity to do this type of training,” Steube said.  Once funding is in place for the hangar, it will take up to two years to build.


Amontree said there’s also a $2.75 million proposal from the Charlotte County Airport Authority that will help Charlotte County students studying aviation.  “It will really be to benefit us (Charlotte County School students) for a large hangar and classroom space at the airport,” she said. “The budget is currently on the governor’s desk, and we are waiting for his signature.”  Punta Gorda Airport CEO James Parish said the airport is growing with nearly 2 million passengers a year, driving the need for pilots and airline mechanics.  Those jobs, he said, can eventually be filled by students who graduate from this program.  School Board members were told some space and aviation companies, including NASA, hire qualified students “out of high school.”

While the funding is being secured, the district has a consultant developing the school-based requirements aerospace businesses say are needed for those jobs.


Original Article