The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is awarding five Missouri school districts with funds to replace their old school buses with newer, cleaner-running versions.
The five districts chosen are Clever, Hannibal, Joplin, Ozark and West County.
The funding is part of the Missouri Clean Diesel Program. The program aims to reduce diesel emissions and pollution throughout the state to improve the environment. The department chose the recipient districts based on their interest in replacing their buses and which districts submitted applications first.
The DNR chooses to include school buses in its plan because more efficient buses can improve the health and safety of students.
“School bus idling often occurs in settings where there are, by nature, a lot of children," said Gena Terlizzi, director of communications for the DNR. "So if we can improve the efficiency of the school bus fleet, less diesel emissions is less diesel getting into the air and harming the environment and also it’s beneficial for the students that are waiting for the school bus."
The recipient schools will receive up to 25 percent of the cost of a bus, with a maximum award of $20,000. The program gives assistance to school districts that haven’t been able to figure bus replacements into their budget.
Hannibal Public Schools is one of the five selected districts. School officials said the program will have a major positive impact on the district and its transportation.
“Obviously we are going to get better fuel economy and then just the fact that replacing a nickel and dime bus with a new bus is also a great opportunity for our district,” said Hannibal Public Schools Business Manager Rich Stilley.
Stilley said the district now plans to find a bus that meets 2011 EPA emissions standards and get it approved by the DNR.
The department has notified all of the selected districts and each district has it plans to use its funding to upgrade its buses.