Bus Consortium awarded grant for new buses

A bus consortium, consisting of 19 participating Michigan school districts, has received word they have been awarded grant funding to purchase new gas and propane buses. The Brown City District has spearheaded the effort, forming the School Bus Purchase Consortium which is a collection of 18 local school districts and 1 ISD.

The award comes from EGLE’S (Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy) Fuel Transformation Program. The consortium was awarded a grant amount of nearly $1.9 million dollars to help fund the purchase of 44 diesel and 20 propane buses that will assist in removing older model diesel buses and replacing them with much cleaner options.

The Brown City School Bus Purchase Consortium consists of the following districts and includes the number and type of new buses they will be purchasing:
● Brown City Community Schools (Grant Project Manager, 2 propane buses)
● Berrien Springs Public Schools (2 propane buses)
● Byron Center Public Schools (3 diesel buses)
● Capac Community Schools (3 diesel buses)
● Cass City Public School (4 diesel buses)
● Croswell-Lexington Community Schools (3 diesel buses)
● Decatur Public Schools (1 diesel bus)
● Edwardsburg Public Schools (4 diesel buses)
● Fruitport Community Schools (4 diesel buses)
● Holt Public Schools (2 diesel buses)
● Hudsonville Public Schools (8 diesel buses)
● Lakeshore Public Schools (3 diesel buses)
● North Branch Area Schools (7 propane buses)
● Northview Public Schools (6 propane buses)
● Plainwell Community Schools (3 propane buses)
● Saline Area Schools (4 diesel buses)
● Unionville Sebawaing Area Schools (1 diesel bus)
● Van Buren ISD (1 diesel bus)
● Yale Public Schools (3 diesel buses)

The Brown City School Bus Purchase Consortium will decommission 64 diesel buses (2009 or older) and replace them with cleaner diesel and propane options. The consortium’s partners have a footprint in 15 different counties around the State of
Michigan.

Their collective efforts will improve the air quality and improve the health environment for students and community members in each of these districts. “Replacing older, diesel engines with clean diesel or propane delivers savings for school districts and will also improve public health at bus stops, on school grounds, and in communities,” said Jack Schinderle, Director of EGLE’s Materials Management Division. “Students who have cleaner air to breathe will do better in school and have
fewer health concerns.”

Within the grant requirements districts will receive a 25% reimbursement on new diesel buses or a 40% reimbursement on new propane buses. Additionally, the districts must disable a 2009 (or older) diesel bus that is in their current fleet which has met grant
minimum requirements for mileage and fuel usage.

The Brown City School Bus Purchase members will be purchasing their 64 new buses over the next two years. The Fuel Transformation Program Grants are supported with dollars allocated to Michigan from the Volkswagen settlement. The settlement was a result of Volkswagen’s Clean Air Act violations related to the installation of emissions control defeat devices on thousands of diesel engine vehicles.

As part of the settlement, Michigan was allocated a total of $64.8 million and will use 21.5% of that total to replace old diesel school buses.

Neil Kohler, Superintendent at Brown City Community Schools and Project Manager for the Brown City School Bus Purchase Consortium, said,  “I cannot express how excited I am for all the members of our consortium, on being awarded this grant for $1,894,648.50! For our group to cover a large portion of the lower peninsula and have a positive environmental impact on so many areas is just amazing. I want to commend all of our members on their work in this process and for sharing in my vision to work together to save our schools money while also improving air quality for our communities. We have small districts and large districts working together to get 64 cleaner buses on the road over the next two years! Many of our districts had never worked together in any capacity, but this consortium proves that districts across the state can work together to create better opportunities and financial
savings for all involved. It is my hope that the relationships built through this grant can extend to future projects, or encourage other districts to think ‘Big Picture’ in how districts need to work together for the success of public schools in Michigan.”

Ken Nicholl, Superintendent of Yale Public Schools and Consortium Member, added, “We are very excited about being named as a recipient of the grant. Not only will this provide for better air quality for all of our individual communities, it will also help to
update our aging fleets while providing financial relief for each of our districts. I cannot say enough about the individuals who collectively gathered for a common purpose that benefited all who participated. These efforts clearly exemplify the passion that
everyone has for their district and for their communities.”