Sheldon, Iowa — Iowa school districts are being encouraged to apply for federal funding to replace old school buses that emit large amounts of air pollution. Karen Grimes, with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says only a few Iowa districts are likely to be awarded a share of the money from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Grimes says there’s $7 million available nationwide…so that’s only about $140,000 per state. Last year, seven school districts in Iowa were awarded EPA funding toward the purchase of at least one new bus. The only northwest Iowa school district was Cherokee Community.
School buses built before 2007 have diesel engines that emit tiny particles known to aggravate asthma, and cause lung damage and other serious health problems.
We talked to Sheldon Community Schools representatives, who told us that of the District’s thirteen buses, seven were built prior to 2007. Of those, three are regular route buses, with one driven by subs, and three spares.
The Iowa Department of Education reports there are around 6,000 school buses in the state and roughly one-third are from model years 2006 or older. Buses built after 2006 were designed to cut emissions by 90 percent.
School districts have until October 30 to apply for the EPA funding rebates, which can be used to purchases new buses. Since buses cost in the neighborhood of $80,000 each, the EPA funding rebates can help with a purchase, but most likely won’t cover the entire cost.