School district pursues grant to replace buses

SIGNAL FILE PHOTO: Sulphur Springs Union School District Superintendent Catherine Kawaguchi joins board members Ken Chase and Kerry Clegg at a district meeting.

The Sulphur Springs Union School District has opted to pursue a grant to help pay for electric school buses and the necessary charging infrastructure, after governing board members approved a resolution Wednesday.

Following the passage of Senate Bill 110, the California Energy Commission was charged with retrofitting or replacing old diesel school buses in disadvantaged and low-income communities throughout California, which resulted in the establishment of the School Bus Replacement Program.

The alternative-fuel bus replacement program will allocate $75 million to districts across the state in an effort to provide environmentally friendly transportation that will replace old diesel school buses, according to the energy commission’s website. The program seeks to improve children’s health by limiting their exposure to transportation-related air pollution.

“The grant covers 100 percent of the cost associated with the buses, which is great and unusual,” board President Ken Chase said. “Obviously, when something as important as this becomes available to the district at no cost, we’ll jump on the opportunity.”

The program requires districts to scrap an old diesel bus for every new bus it’ll receive, which is why the district must pass a resolution before it applies for the grant, Chase said. Districts will be evaluated based on the age of their school buses, the number of students who receive free-and-reduced lunches, as well as the ways that disadvantaged communities will benefit.

“We hope to replace as many as we can,” he said.

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