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North Callaway school district receives grants for new buses

by Rochelle Eiselt | March 30, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
The Thunderbird sculpture at North Callaway High School is shown in this Fulton Sun file photo.

KINGDOM CITY -- The North Callaway R-1 School District could get new buses.

North Callaway is one of 11 Missouri school districts that will receive a total of $535,000 in school bus rebate opportunities to replace 26 older buses through the 2021 Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) school bus rebates.

North Callaway was chosen to receive two grants totaling $40,000 (up to $20,000 each).

Doug Kee, transportation director at North Callaway, said the district has tentatively said yes to the opportunity to accept the funds and are figuring out how to use them.

Depending on the age of the buses, the older buses would be replaced, he said.

If the school district accepts the funding, it would receive up to $20,000 toward the purchase for a replacement school bus from 2017 or later, Kee said. Electric models are an option as long as the engine model is newer than 2017.

"It would help us replace some older school buses," Kee said.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the winners of two school bus rebate opportunities earlier this month: the 2021 American Rescue Plan electric school bus rebates and 2021 DERA school bus rebates.

The $7 million in ARP funding is directed toward school districts in underserved communities to replace old diesel buses with new, zero-emission electric models; and the $10 million in DERA rebates will assist with 444 school bus replacements across the country.

The rebate awards are EPA's latest round of funding for longstanding DERA school bus rebates. This year's program awards approximately $10 million to fund the replacement of old diesel school buses with new electric, diesel, gasoline, propane or compressed natural gas school buses meeting current emission standards.

The two rebate awards total approximately $17 million in combined funding for schools and bus fleet owners to replace older, high-polluting diesel school buses. Replacing these buses will improve air quality in and around schools and communities, reduce greenhouse gas pollution and better protect children's health.

Since 2012, EPA's school bus rebates have awarded, or are in the process of awarding, more than $73 million to replace more than 3,000 old diesel school buses.

Kee said the district is still discussing the opportunity and approval of the funding would likely be made by the school board. The decision will likely be made in April.

As for having enough drivers, Kee said they're still short. Several routes are open and the district is not fully staffed.

This program will also prioritize projects that help achieve the goals of President Biden's Justice40 initiative, which aims to ensure federal agencies deliver at least 40 percent of benefits from certain investments to underserved communities.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $5 billion over five years for the Clean School Bus Program to replace existing school buses with cleaner models.

This spring, the EPA plans to announce a new Clean School Bus rebate program for applicants to replace existing school buses with low- or zero-emission school buses. 

The EPA may prioritize applications that replace school buses in high-need local educational agencies, low-income and rural areas, tribal schools, and applications that provide cost share.

Print Headline: North Callaway school district receives grants for new buses


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