Bellevue Public Schools taking flight with $2 million grant

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  • 55th Wing Public Affairs

Bellevue Public Schools recently announced they were awarded a $2 million Department of Defense Education Activity competitive grant.

The five-year award will be used for Operation Taking Flight, whose goal will be to increase math proficiency for all students and initiate a new BPS Aviation Academy.

“Bellevue Public Schools is honored to once again partner with DoDEA to support Operation Taking Flight,” said Dr. Jeff Rippe, BPS superintendent. “The DoDEA grant will strongly support our partnership with Offutt Air Force Base, specifically with the aviation academy, and the opportunity to increase student interest in aviation.”

Offutt and BPS have had strong ties for many years, including serving as an advisory member on their school board.

With Operation Taking Flight, that relationship should grow even more.

“This is an awesome opportunity for the local community,” said Col. Derek Rachel, 55th Operations Group commander. “We look forward to supporting this new initiative and I know our aircrew would absolutely love to talk to the students about aviation.”

Grant funds will be utilized to improve math performance by funding costs associated with K-12 curriculum development in alignment to the new Nebraska College and Career Ready Standards for Mathematics. These costs include substitute teachers for curriculum development, training for staff members to implement the new standards with key instructional shifts, and nearly half the cost of purchasing new high-quality K-12 math instructional resources.

Grant funds will also be utilized to initiate the BPS Aviation Academy at the Frank Kumor Career Center. The two new aviation courses will allow students to explore the aviation industry by introducing students to concepts related to flight, aircraft systems and performance, the flying environment, flight planning and drones.

“Having the opportunity to learn more about aviation is really going to open some of the student’s eyes to what they can do and what careers they may want to pursue,” Rachel said. “It just takes a little spark and Operation Taking Flight is certainly going to do that.”

The program will also focus on careers in aviation and allow students to earn industry certifications including the Private Pilot Knowledge Test and Part 107 Remote Pilot Knowledge Test. The district will partner with the Aviation Owners and Pilots Association Foundation to implement the You Can Fly curriculum and resources. Flight simulator equipment and drones will also be utilized to support the curriculum.