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Nome Public Schools Will Purchase New Computers and Grow Aviation Club Next Year

Science Teacher Dave Padvorac shares his plans for the Nome-Beltz Aviation Club with the school board. Photo: Laura Kraegel, KNOM.

NOME, Alaska — While the Class of 2016 graduates, Nome Public Schools is already looking ahead to next year. At a work session Tuesday night, the school board discussed two priorities for the future of the district: purchasing new computers and getting a new aviation club off the ground.

Science teacher Dave Padvorac started the aviation club this year to get students interested in careers as pilots and plane mechanics. He said the airline industry is growing, and local carriers like Bering Air and Ravn Alaska will need more pilots soon.

“They have a huge premium on finding a pilot who’s invested here and wants to be here,” he said. “That’s something that’s really, really valuable to them. And there’s a gap there that we could fill.”

The club won’t certify students with pilot licenses, but Padvorac said it will give them basic skills and knowledge — and even some specialized training. The district is looking to partner with homegrown pilots and Northern Air Cargo to supply the program and mentor students in grades 7 through 12.

“This is definitely a pilot’s region,” said School Board President Barb Amarok. “We should be putting out more pilots.”

Meanwhile, the computers at Nome Elementary School and the Nome Youth Facility are wearing down. Director of Technology Jacob Phillips said each machine is five to 10 years old.

That’s why he’s proposing the district spend $132,000 to replace 151 computers. The Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation has already pledged more than half of the funding, and Superintendent Shawn Arnold said the district should be able to cover the rest.

The school board is scheduled to make a decision on the computer purchases at its next regular meeting on June 14.