As part of its National Clean Diesel Rebate Program, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) selected Toms River Regional Schools’ 2016 application for funding and will award the district $180,000 in rebates for new bus purchases.
More than 500 school bus fleets submitted rebate requests, and Toms River Regional Schools was one of only 88 applicants from across the country selected for funding. As part of the program the district will replace nine school buses that had 2001-model diesel engines. The new buses purchased-- each earning a $20,000 rebate-- will have 2017 engines with significantly lower emissions. The fuel-efficiency of the new buses will save additional money long-term while greatly reducing the district’s carbon footprint.
The district estimates that 67 buses will need to be replaced in the next five years; a bus replacement plan that targets 13-14 replacements per year. Qualifying for the EPA rebate supports a key district goal, approved by the Board of Education this past fall, to find alternative sources of funding that will support programs for students. As Superintendent David Healy points out, “The big savings from this federal rebate can be invested back into learning and instruction.”
The district is grateful for its selection for funding as both a significant cost-savings measure and as part of its environmental sustainability initiatives, which also include an energy monitoring and reduction plan, solar on each of its school buildings, Sustainable NJ grants, partnerships with the town Green Team and local environmental organizations, and a high school STEAM Academy School of Environmental Sustainability debuting in September 2017.
The EPA application for funding was a collaborative effort that began with research by and a recommendation from High School science teacher Christine Girtain, extensive data collection by Transportation Department senior secretary Kathleen Buchan and shift foreman Steve Winkleman, and the navigation of the application process by district grant writer Mike Kenny. In the last two years, the district has won nearly three quarters of a million dollars in grants and sponsorships toward new programs and equipment.
The new buses will be delivered and on the road by September 2017.