July 17, 2009
Neal Wagner -
COLUMBUS -- Newer, more fuel efficient yellow buses soon could be rolling through the streets of Columbus, officials with the Columbus Municipal School District announced Thursday.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week awarded a nearly $1.5 million grant to the CMSD to replace and upgrade the district''s school bus fleet.
Although the EPA distributed nearly $156 million to schools and agencies across the nation, Columbus was the only Mississippi school system selected to receive the grant.
"We are real excited about getting this grant," said CMSD Superintendent Del Phillips. "We are the only school board, and I think the only entity in Mississippi, period, to get this."
CMSD officials will use the grant money to replace 30 old buses and install direct fire heating units, a system which prevents cold starts and increases the vehicle''s lifespan, in 22 other buses, according to a press release from U.S. Rep. Travis Childers, D-Booneville.
Because the federal government this year imposed stricter emissions standards on all buses built after the 2009 model year, all new buses purchased through the grant will be significantly more fuel efficient than previous models, Phillips said.
"North Mississippi schools should have the up-to-date equipment they need to safely serve their students and their communities," Childers wrote. "These significant recovery funds will provide Columbus schools with modern, environmentally friendly modes of transportation that reduce fuel emissions."
Because the school district will be able to purchase about 30 new buses at once, the district will be able to allocate a portion of its transportation funds to other school departments, Phillips said.
"These will be brand new, 2010-model buses. We are really excited about reducing the district''s carbon footprint on the environment," Phillips said. "We were going to have to purchase new buses each year anyway.
"Now, we can purchase a bunch of buses that will meet the heavy new emission standards everyone has to start abiding by," Phillips added. "We can buy all of these at once and basically save that money for other uses."