Plans are underway to recruit students and to renovate the new location of the Aerospace & Natural Science Academy of Toledo, slated to open for the 2018-2019 school year.
The District will start accepting applications for the 2018-2019 school year in mid-January, administrators say.
Toledo Public Schools is not reinventing the wheel with its new school.
Instead, the District is combining two successful Career Tech programs – The Aviation Center and the Natural Science Technology Center – and adding core academic subjects that the students will take in a renovated building at the Toledo Express Airport.
There are plans to offer a Career Tech honors diploma, but the main impetus behind the creation of the Aerospace & Natural Science Academy of Toledo is to train students to be college and career ready for jobs in the growing fields of aviation and environmental science, sustainability and wildlife management.
The aviation industry, for example, anticipates a shortage of more than 113,000 aviation technicians over the next 15 years.
And, says Dr. Romules Durant, TPS superintendent/CEO, “Every year in August and September in northwest Ohio, we talk about the algae bloom. The kids in this school very well may be coming up with the solution to that issue.”
The current Aviation Center is a three-year program that prepares students to become FAA-certified maintenance technicians and provides them with hands-on experience in a hangar located at the airport. They, and their counterparts at the Natural Science Technology Center, have split schedules – they travel to their home high schools for core classes and then travel again to their respective centers for individualized training and then back on the bus to their home schools for dismissal.
“This new academy, which includes core curriculum courses, will allow the Aviation Center students to spend their entire school day at the airport, eliminating long travel times during the day,” says Paul Toth, president and chief executive officer of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. He adds the Port Authority is proud to partner with the TPS on this project. And the Natural Science Technology Center students will have the time they travel cut down considerably.
The new school will be housed in a 33,138-square-foot facility previously used to house simulators for flight training. The district has budgeted more than $4.6 million for renovations. This includes more than $1.6 million in building improvements, including such items as re-roofing and HVAC that would typically be the responsibility of the Port Authority, the building’s owner. In addition to paying for the improvements, the district’s ten-year lease deal includes zero rent for the first six years.
District officials are still finalizing staffing needs so there is not an overall operating cost at this point, but recruitment has started to enroll 300 students in grades 9–12. The academy is a true magnet school, with TPS administrators hoping to attract students from throughout northwest Ohio.
In addition to core subjects such as English, Math and Science, students will learn such necessary job skills as team-building, problem solving and innovation. Teachers will attend Professional Development sessions at the start of each school year so they are current on the latest industry practices.
Recruitment shouldn’t be a problem, if Start High School sophomore Faith Brown is any indication. She had known she wanted to pursue some type of mechanical career but honed in on aviation after a trip to the current center.
“I didn’t know I could be working on airplanes,” she told The Blade newspaper the day of the announcement. “When I came here in eighth grade I was like, ‘… this is what I want to do.’”
The Port Authority is not the only Toledo-area organization wholeheartedly supporting the creation of the new academy.
Both Bowling Green State University and Owens Community College have pledged academic support. Students who enroll in the College Credit Plus program while at the academy can earn an associate degree through Owens and then have the opportunity to transfer to BGSU to earn a bachelor’s degree only two years out of high school.
BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey says she is most proud that the collaboration is designed to help students continue their education without leaving northwest Ohio.
“The students will have opportunities to pursue coursework that will lead to degrees in aviation studies, engineering technology, environmental science and biology,” she says. There will be a seamless pathway between the Aerospace and Natural Science Academy of Toledo and associate and bachelor’s degree programs at the Firelands campus of BGSU and the school’s College of Technology, Architecture, and Applied Engineering or the College of Arts and Sciences.
All of these plans will further Dr. Durant’s ultimate goal: to have 90 percent or more of the district’s Career Technology students secure a job, military assignment or higher education when they graduate from TPS. - Mary-Beth Matthews