Superintendent’s Corner - October 25, 2022
Dear RSU 67 staff, students, families, and community members,
With the torrential rains the past few weeks, the beautiful array of colors that once dotted our landscape has now turned into the burdensome task of leaf removal from our yards. Unfortunately, as the trees become increasingly bare, it is a stark reminder that winter is just around the corner. However, until winter arrives, I will remain hopeful that this long stretch of unusually warm, late autumn weather, continues into the foreseeable future.
In this week’s edition of the Superintendent’s Corner, I will share some information about an exciting new program that could substantially benefit our students, communities, environment, and taxpayers. Some of you might remember that in August, I informed the School Board of a new Clean Bus Program being offered by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA Clean Bus Program is the result of a Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that promises to provide $5 billion over the next 5 years to replace diesel school buses with new clean (electric) buses that produce either zero or low tailpipe emissions. Through a lottery system, the EPA will soon announce awards of the first $1 billion in grants to school districts that applied. Although any school district could apply for the grant, Tribal organizations, rural districts, and/or districts in low-income regions were prioritized. Due to our rural location and lower income levels, the EPA designated RSU 67 as a priority district, and with the approval of the School Board, I applied for funds. If selected, RSU 67 could receive up to $375,000 for each replacement bus, fully funding as many as 8 diesel buses we use on a daily basis. In addition, the district will receive $20,000 for each new bus to pay for charging infrastructure. This amounts to a potential award of up to $3,160,000 for the district.
While electric buses are fairly new technology, many have been safely operating for years with great success. Many northern-tier states and Canada have been operating electric buses for years in very cold weather without issue, even in the harshest of conditions. Closer to home, Mount Desert Island (MDI) High School purchased an electric school bus one year ago, and administrators have reported that the bus exceeded expectations. MDI is now in the process of purchasing several more.
As we have worked closely with bus manufacturer Lion Electric, we have learned a great deal about this exciting opportunity. Our new buses will have batteries designed to operate for approximately 100 miles and can be charged overnight when electricity is less expensive to purchase. The batteries come with an 8-year warranty but are projected to last for at least 12-15 years. For trips beyond 100 miles, we have spare diesel buses for that purpose until there is better access to charging across the state. With these buses, we expect longer bus life and a substantial reduction in fuel and maintenance costs, which will ultimately reduce operating costs.
Participating in the EPA Clean Bus program is an exciting opportunity for our students, our communities, our taxpayers, and our environment. I am proud that our district is looking at ways to improve student health, reduce operational costs, and protect the environment for the next generation. If you have any questions about the EPA Clean Bus program or the potential for electric buses in RSU 67, please contact me via email at email@example.com.
Until next time………….