Apache Junction school district awarded 5 new school buses worth $550,000

The Apache Junction Unified School District has been awarded five new diesel buses totaling $550,000. (Arianna Grainey, Independent Newsmedia)

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey today announced that 22 school districts have received approval for the purchase of 76 diesel and alternative-fuel schools buses, totaling $8.4 million. The $8.4 million is the second wave of funding awarded as part of a $38 million plan to provide low-income schools with new school buses.

The Apache Junction Unified School District has been awarded five new diesel buses totaling $550,000. The district had applied for seven.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey

“Investing in K-12 education remains a top priority,” Gov. Ducey said in a release.

“These new dollars will benefit low-income school districts across Arizona, including many in rural areas. And by funding the purchase of new buses, these funds will free up additional resources schools can put toward other important needs.”

In June, Gov. Ducey released a $38 million plan to purchase an estimated 280 school buses utilizing settlement funds from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust.

The plan provides funding to 60 percent free and reduced lunch school districts, charters and the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind to replace buses with more than 100,000 miles and older than 15 years, according to the release.

During a two-month application period in the fall of 2018, school administrators received four training opportunities, on-demand online training resources and a direct point of contact for technical assistance during the application process.

In the first wave of funding, 142 diesel and alternative fuel school buses were awarded to 55 school districts and charter schools at a cost of $15.9 million. To date, Arizona has approved 77 applications from school districts and charter schools, resulting in $24.4 million awarded for 218 buses. A third wave of awards is expected to be announced in the near future, according to the release.

In January 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit against Volkswagen for violating the Clean Air Act by modifying its vehicles to cheat emissions tests. The suit resulted in a settlement agreement that requires Volkswagen to spend $10 billion to buy back vehicles or compensate vehicle owners and $4.7 billion to offset pollution from the modified cars.

Arizona will receive $57 million over the next two years. The plan also includes funding other mission critical projects such as supporting wildland fire crews and equipment for the Arizona Department of Transportation, according to the release.

The Apache Junction Independent publishes a daily newsletter and website. A print edition is mailed each month to 35,000 homes.

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