Governor Doug Ducey announced Jan. 4 that 22 school districts have received approval for the purchase of 76 diesel and alternative fuel schools buses, totaling $8.4 million. The $8.4 million is the second wave of funding awarded as part of a $38 million plan to provide low-income schools with new school buses.
Only those districts that had 60 percent or more of their students qualify for free or reduced price lunch programs could apply. The buses to be replaced had to have at least 100,000 miles on them or be at least 15 years old.
La Paz County Districts that will be receiving funding for new buses include the Salome and Quartzsite Elementary School Districts and the Bicentennial Union High School District (Salome High). The two elementary districts will receive funding for one bus, while the high school will receive funding for two buses.
The Parker Unified School District and Wenden Elementary School District received funding in the first wave in December
The Arizona Daily Star is reporting Tucson’s two largest school districts will receive over $4.5 million to replace 44 old school buses.
The Star said the Tucson Unified School District will receive $3.52 million — nearly half of the $8.4 million allocated for distribution in phase two. The money will allow the district to replace 35 old school buses with new ones that run on diesel and other alternative fuels. Sunnyside will get $990,000, which will replace nine buses.
“Investing in K-12 education remains a top priority,” said Governor Ducey. “These new dollars will benefit low-income school districts across Arizona, including many in rural areas. And by funding the purchase of new buses, these funds will free up additional resources schools can put toward other important needs.”
In June of 2018, Governor Ducey released a $38 million plan to purchase an estimated 280 school buses utilizing settlement funds from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust. The plan provides funding to 60% free and reduced lunch school districts, charters and the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind to replace buses with over 100,000 miles and older than 15 years. During a two-month application period in the fall of 2018, school administrators received four training opportunities, on-demand online training resources and a direct point of contact for technical assistance during the application process.
In the first wave of funding, 142 diesel and alternative fuel school buses were awarded to 55 school districts and charter schools at a cost of $15.9 million. To date, Arizona has approved 77 applications from school districts and charter schools, resulting in $24.4 million awarded for 218 buses. A third wave of awards is expected to be announced in the near future.
BACKGROUND ON THE SETTLEMENT: In January of 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit against Volkswagen for violating the Clean Air Act by modifying its vehicles to cheat emissions tests. The suit resulted in a settlement agreement that requires Volkswagen to spend $10 billion to buy back vehicles or compensate vehicle owners and $4.7 billion to offset pollution from the modified cars. Arizona will receive $57 million over the next two years. The plan also includes funding other mission critical projects such as supporting wildland fire crews and equipment for the Arizona Department of Transportation.