Three Inland school districts were awarded funds to purchase electric-powered buses by the South Coast Air Quality Management District on June 2.
The air regulatory board awarded approximately $1.6 million to the Fontana Unified School District, Rialto Unified School District, and the Jurupa Unified School District for the purchase of the buses, according to a staff report. Each district will be able to purchase two buses and charging stations.
Environmentalists believe the SCAQMD’s decision is a step in the right direction, though they hope the air regulatory can continue to support similar projects in the future.
“It’s about making sure funding gets to school districts here in the Inland Empire,” said Sierra Club My Generation organizer Yassi Kavezade. “We’re looking to continue working with the [SCAQMD] to get these kinds resources and infrastructure to our community.”
In total, 16 public school districts and two charter schools were awarded approximately $8.84 million for the purchase of 33 school busses.
Fontana, Jurupa, and Rialto’s school districts would have enough funds to purchase two conventional school buses that have a battery range of 60 miles and have a battery warranty of five years, officials said.
Funding for the bus purchases will come from the Carl Moyer Program (AB 923) that provides grant funding for ‘cleaner-than-required’ engines and equipment.
The air district prioritized funding for school districts and charter schools that sit in areas with high poverty concentration, cancer rates, and fine particle pollution, according to the staff report.
Fontana resident Kareem Gongora, whose three children attend schools in the Fontana Unified School District, was pleased with the SCAQMD’s decision.
“School is meant to improve the lives of kids, so we need to start transporting them there in vehicles that don’t harm their health,” said Gongora. “This is a great start and a strong example of leadership from our air regulators. You’re talking to a happy dad.”