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Small town makes important decision to protect its students — and it seems to be paying off

"The cost savings are going to let me better support my kids."

"The cost savings are going to let me better support my kids."

Photo Credit: iStock

A small rural school district in East Texas recently became the first in the state to join others across the country that have transitioned away from diesel school buses and gone electric, a move that will benefit the students, the school district, and the community as a whole.

Last year, as Canary Media reports, the Martinsville Independent School District applied for and received a $1.6 million grant as part of the Clean School Bus Program, part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that went into effect in November 2021. The program is investing $5 billion to replace diesel buses with zero-pollution and low-pollution buses across the country, mostly in low-income and rural areas, per Canary.

Although electric buses cost around $400,000 each, because of the Clean School Bus Program the new buses are almost free. The program, run by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pays school districts up to $375,000 per bus replaced and offers an additional $20,000 for charging infrastructure, Axios has reported.

That's on top of the savings of running the new buses compared to the old ones. Axios reported that, according to Blue Bird, a leading school bus manufacturer, it costs about 14 cents a mile to run an electric bus as opposed to 49 cents a mile to operate a diesel bus.

Keith Kimbrough, principal of Martinsville ISD, was able to get the administration on board after calculating that the costs of operating the electric buses would be about 70% less than operating diesel buses, per Canary Media.

Kimbrough told the outlet: "What I can save in diesel and maintenance, I can almost hire a teacher or an instructional aid, or give some other benefit to my teachers. The cost savings are going to let me better support my kids."

The electric buses are also better for the community because they don't produce pollutants that are harmful to the environment and to the kids. Studies have shown that the pollutants released from diesel school buses can be physically harmful to children, especially those who already suffer from asthma. They can also negatively affect the cognitive development of children.

A student in Martinsville ISD who rides the buses every day, Yamilet Garcia, likes the new electric bus experience.

"When we were waiting to get on the bus, it used to smell weird with the old buses," Garcia said for the Canary Media article. "With these buses, it's been a lot quieter and a lot nicer."

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