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LAUSD launches ‘first of its kind’ HVAC apprentice program

Craig Clough | October 14, 2015

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HVACThe LA Unified school board yesterday got a first-hand look at a first-of-its-kind apprentice program, which will train 10 current district employees to become heating, ventilating, and air conditioning technicians.

“This is a unique program in this district, in this state and in this nation. A first of its kind,” Superintendent Ramon Cortines said during a presentation to update board members.

The program was first approved by the board in 2011 but it took until this year for the district to afford it, said Roger Finstad, the district’s Director of Maintenance and Operations.

Over 200 employees applied for the program, which will send the apprentices to night school twice a week and then have them partner with techs working in field at LA Unified campuses and buildings. After a five-year apprenticeship, the workers will be qualified to work as journeymen technicians.

Referring to the thousands of calls his office has received over the last few years regarding failing AC units, Finstad said, “I don’t think I need to tell you this, we need [techs] badly. Our portfolio, I think I’ve explained this to you before, is just enormous. To handle the 68,000 pieces of HVAC equipment and to provide air conditioning to over 30,000 classrooms and thousands of offices and other spaces, we need qualified, world-class, trained technicians to do this.”

The program was developed in partnership with the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council and United Association Local Union 250.

“We look at this as a true partnership, one that we have nurtured for many years,” Ron Miller, executive secretary of the trades council, told the board. He also said there are plans to expand the program to include pipefitters, welders and other trades.

The update on the program review rave reviews from several member of the board, including President Steve Zimmer, who said, “This really shows what this district is all about.”

See video of the presentation to the school board below.

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