SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Springfield Public Schools has announced it will officially roll out its new aviation program, Fly SPS, during the 2023-24 school year.
SPS is partnering with Ozarks Technical Community College to deliver courses to high school juniors and seniors seeking their private pilot’s license.
“We have a longstanding relationship with Chancellor Higdon and OTC,” said Dr. Ben Hackenwerth, chief strategy and innovation officer at SPS. “This came about as we were talking about all sorts of other career and technical education programming that our students engage in at OTC. This sort of partnership between SPS and OTC isn’t a new one, but is certainly a unique one, and we are excited about it.”
Two student applicants from each of the five SPS high schools will be chosen in a lottery to take flight with Fly SPS. Participants will spend half of their day at school tending to normal coursework, and the rest of the day at the OTC flight training center in the half-day program.
Students will focus on earning their pilot’s license during their first year of instruction, and will delve into advanced aviation and flight training courses during their second year.
The program will cost approximately $9,000 a semester per student. SPS will pay for each student’s aviation tuition fees, but students must first meet FAA screening requirements before being chosen.
“Because it’s such a unique opportunity, there are a lot of what could be disqualifying conditions, as it is with anyone trying to obtain their pilot’s license,” Hackenwerth told The Heartlander. “We will be providing those (next spring) so families can read through those.”
Hackenwerth says SPS Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan has first-hand experience with aviation programs from her last school district, which should bring some familiarity with carrying out the partnership program. Additionally, Hackenwerth says community feedback has been phenomenal and interest is at an all-time high.
OTC also plans to open its new airframe and maintenance power plant facility in 2024, where SPS students will go to learn more about specific aspects of aviation such as mechanics.