During the Wednesday night board meeting, the Sulphur Springs Union School District board caught a glimpse of the first of three new buses rolling into the district for the coming year.
The three buses were purchased through the use of a South Coast Air Quality Management District grant in order to replace three pre-1994 diesel school buses by fall of 2019. The grant provided $376,500 for the buses, while the district covered $93,238.20. This translates to $125,500 a bus covered by the grant and $31,079.40 covered by the district.
“If our students aren’t able to come to the school and come into a classroom, they’re not getting all the advantages of an education,” said Denis DeFigueiredo, president of the SSUSD Board of Trustees. “For some of our students that means we need to provide home to school transportation. The district has worked hard and diligently to identify funding and grants to update our aging fleet of buses”
The district’s purchase of the vehicles was nearly thrown into question earlier this year when the vendor they had originally placed their order with had told transportation staff they would not be able to fulfill the order by the district deadline for the coming school year.
Working quickly and in order to meet the requirements stipulated by a grant given to them by the SCAQMD, the district was able to find a new vendor and the buses not only met the emissions standards, but also gained new features along the way.
The new buses feature an in-bus camera system, LED lights, dual-air conditioning, seats a total of 75 students and the cleaner burning propane engine system, according to officials. The buses also have a child-check safety system, which ensures all students have departed the bus before the end of the route. The driver’s mirror also has a backup camera installed, giving drivers a full view of where they are while in reverse.
The board had also made it one of their priorities when evaluating which vehicles it should buy to add to the fleet that it would be able to handle the large hills found within the SSUSD neighborhoods.
In addition to the propane bus, the district expects to receive new electrical buses in the future, but for now the other two propane engines will be delivered before the end of the week, according to officials.
“We have been very successful and this bus is just the first of several alternative energy vehicles that we will be putting into use this year,” he said.
Before the meeting, board members were allowed to tour the bus and view the various features the new bus has to offer.