VIENNA (WSIL) — Shortly after Vienna students return to school in the fall, they’ll see some new school buses.
The school district covers 300 square miles, and that means buses are needed each day to take students to and from school.
"That requires a lot of transportation from the rural parts of our county, so we are very much reliant as a school district on bus routes and buses," says Superintendent Joshua Stafford.
The Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded the school $100,000 towards replacing at least three older-model buses with new buses that have a price tag of around $80,000 each.
It’s part of an initiative to get diesel buses that were made in or before 2006 off the road. According to the EPA, this reduces emissions and pollutants that are linked to asthma, lung damage, and other health problems.
Stafford says an added perk is getting buses with upgraded safety features and accommodations like stop arms with video cameras. This can help prevent drivers from passing stopped school buses.
"As that word gets out there that’s something that we take very seriously that we’re watching. I think it will reduce a potential hazard," says Stafford.
Another person looking forward to these new buses is Debbie Jones, who’s been driving buses in the district for 28 years, "You get to know your kids real well. They like to visit with you when you’re on the route with them for almost an hour."
Jones says other convenient features on newer models are back-up cameras, Wi-Fi, and heated steps, "Where the kids getting on in the winter time are not slipping when there’s snow and ice."
Stafford plans on ordering the buses this week, so they can be built and arrive by October.
This is the second time Vienna school district received these EPA rebates. A few years ago, they were able to replace four buses.
Stafford says the district will continue to apply and hopefully be selected for more funds.