Mississippi schools consider option of adding electric school buses to their fleet

Published: Oct. 24, 2022 at 7:35 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Some Mississippi school districts may soon shift from gas to battery-powered buses. However, it likely won’t be for their full fleet for now.

An all-electric ride also comes with a bigger price tag. So, you may be wondering how cash-strapped school districts could even consider a switch like this.

“The grant program is our biggest avenue right now,” explained John Ellison, Superintendent of the Chickasaw County School District. “But we do believe that over time, you’re gonna see enough savings and diesel and all to make up some of those costs.”

It’s not just a hypothetical. Chickasaw County Superintendent John Ellison has already submitted his district’s application under the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program.

“We applied for 11,” he noted. “We’re supposed to hear back, I believe, this month, how the grant went.”

Eleven buses would equate to replacing a third of the district’s fleet.

In Lauderdale County, they have also applied for grant money.

“We’re going to bring in probably half a dozen to really kind of pilot the program, especially in one of our more localized areas in our school district,” noted Lauderdale County Superintendent Dr. John-Mark Cain.

With bus drivers hard to find, there’s another potential added benefit.

“If we are able to save money over fuel cost and repair cost on traditional diesel buses, we can try to re-budget and reallocate those resources into better pay for our bus drivers,” said Cain.

One company had a demo model parked at the Mississippi Association of School Administrators conference.

“The range on this bus is about 138 miles,” said Jim Taylor, EV Sales Manager at Thomas Built Buses. “It depends on the charger that is installed, but primarily three and a half hours is what it takes to charge.”

Another company answered questions for administrators during a presentation.

Most districts say they’ll reserve the electric vehicles for daily routes and won’t use them for longer trips like out-of-town ballgames.

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