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Stimulus Dollars Buy Greener School Buses

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Stimulus grants will help nearly 20 districts in the state pay for the more energy efficient buses or retrofit old ones. Stimulus grants will help nearly 20 districts in the state pay for the more energy efficient buses or retrofit old ones.
All the buses are being purchased from local dealers and were made in the United States. All the buses are being purchased from local dealers and were made in the United States.

By Amy Lester, Oklahoma Impact Team

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Nearly 20 school districts are going green thanks to federal stimulus dollars. The schools will receive $3.5 million to buy new or retrofit old school buses in Oklahoma.

"The buses we're going to be receiving are head and shoulders above the ones that we're going to be getting rid of," said James McNabb, Director of Transportation for Jenks Public Schools.

The Environmental Protection Agency will reimburse schools for 25 percent of the cost of the new buses. Or, if districts retrofit old buses with cleaner technology, the EPA will cover 100 percent of the cost.

"It's a need, especially in school districts that are hurting right now, financially. If we didn't get some kind of help, I mean, there's some give, somewhere and that's a very easy place to say we'll just run older buses," McNabb said.

Jenks Public Schools will replace six buses. Putnam City will replace sixteen buses that are 23-years-old. Voters approved bond issues in both districts to provide matching funds for the buses.

"These engines burn cleaner fuel. The emissions are greatly reduced from the old vehicles.  They're much safer," said John Crafton, Director of Transportation for Putnam City Schools. "I would much rather have my daughter on this bus then a 1987 bus."

Click here to read the list of SMALL districts getting buses

Click here to read the list of LARGE districts getting buses

The technology on new buses can reduce emissions as much as 90 percent. That means students will be exposed to less pollution inside and outside of the bus.

"Their body mass is smaller, so, I guess, they're more susceptible to the air pollution. So, I think, especially when you look at the students themselves, it makes a big difference," said Tom Richardson, Air Quality Engineer for the Department of Environmental Quality.

Click here for more on the EPA's school bus pollution reduction program

Parents appreciate cleaner burning buses, especially when their kids rely on them everyday for transportation.

"It's just more convenient for us to have him ride the school bus in the mornings," said Shy Roy. Her son rides the Putnam City School bus.

Since these are stimulus dollars that we're talking about, Roy said she wants to make sure the state is benefiting.

"As long as they're buying the buses from dealers that are somewhere in the state and helping out the economy, I think that's an okay way to use that money," Roy said.

The districts are purchasing the buses from local dealers. All of the buses are made in the United States.

The Department of Environmental Quality is still accepting applications from large school districts in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City metro areas. DEQ must hand out all of its money by September.

Click here to apply for bus stimulus funding

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