Naperville’s District 203 one of 28 in Illinois to receive clean bus grant 

Close up of school bus, with words school bus visible
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is awarding Naperville School District 203 a $1 million reimbursement through its 2023 clean school bus program. Naperville is one of 28 Illinois school districts receiving a rebate to support electric vehicle initiatives.

According to a news release from U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, the EPA is issuing more than $48 million in rebates to the Illinois-based districts. The agency has earmarked $5 billion in rebates, nationwide, under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Districts had to apply for the rebates   

According to the release, Durbin and Duckworth sent a letter to more than 300 Illinois school districts, informing administrators of eligibility to apply to the competitive rebate program for investments in electric-powered buses.

“I encourage every Illinois school district to apply for the next round,” Durbin said in a statement. “This marks a significant step forward in our collective responsibility to provide a healthier and more environmentally conscious education system for generations to come.”

Duckworth said she was pleased with the rebate awards and the opportunity to put the state “on the path to healthier environments.”

“With this federal funding, school districts across our state have significant support to make these advancements and create a safer and more sustainable future, not just for ourselves, but or our kids and generations to come.”

How District 203 will use the $1 million

District 203’s $1 million rebate can be applied toward the purchase of five clean school buses, according to the EPA-related information outlined in Durbin and Duckworth’s news release.

Superintendent Dan Bridges discussed the announcement during his “good news” report at Monday’s board of education meeting.

Chief Financial Officer Mike Frances and Director of Transportation Cindy La Born reportedly are in dialogue with state and federal authorities and are gathering additional information.

“Mike and Cindy are in the process of understanding exactly how (the rebate) will get applied, whether it is for buses that you’ve already approved for purchase or for future purchases,” Bridges said to the board. “We’ll keep the board updated on that.”

Each of Illinois’ 28 school districts in receipt of the rebate was given a specified dollar amount, and for a specific purpose. Nearby Aurora West Unified School District 129, for instance, was awarded a $5 million rebate to cover the cost of purchasing 25 clean school buses.

A multi-year pilot phase for EV buses

District 203 is in the midst of a multi-year pilot of rolling out the EV buses that began this year. Four were purchased as a part of the 2023-24 school year budget, and they officially went into service shortly after spring break after a series of delays.

The board of education has committed to purchasing four additional EV buses for the upcoming 2024-25 school year budget, bringing the total number that will be in service to eight.

Bridges and the board have indicated they will continue evaluating the EV buses and will discuss additional funding commitments in the 2025-26 school year and beyond.

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