Silver Creek proposes electric bus purchase

OBSERVER Photos by Braden Carmen Guests looked under the hood of an electric school bus from the Gates Chili Central School District at an event last year at Pine Valley Elementary School.

SILVER CREEK — The Silver Creek Central School District has proposed the purchase of a 66-passenger electric school bus as a second proposition of its budget vote later this month.

The purchase, including necessary equipment, would come at a maximum cost of $185,000 to the District after rebates and available purchasing incentives. The vehicle would be purchased through the Capital Reserve for Vehicles fund approved in 2015.

According to acting Business Administrator Brent Agett, the vehicle itself costs approximately $440,000, but the rebates and bonuses available to the District total more than $250,000. Agett noted the cost to the District would still surpass that of a new diesel bus, but the funding available for the District to begin its transition to zero-emission vehicles made the purchase “much better than it could have been.”

Currently, as part of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, a deadline exists for all school districts in New York State to transition entirely to zero-emission school buses by 2035. In addition, any buses purchased must be zero-emission buses beginning in 2027. New York State is aiming to reduce greenhouse gasses by 40% as of 2030, with a target of an 85% reduction by 2050.

As a result, the District has been focused on a cost-effective way to begin the transition to electric school buses without a major burden on District taxpayers. At a Board meeting back in November, Superintendent Dr. Katie Ralston said, “Right now, we are at a prime time to get as many incentives as possible. … The sooner we can engage and apply for (incentives) the better positioned we are to make a successful transition by 2035.”

In 2022, the Environmental Bond Act provided $500 million in funding statewide for school districts to transition to zero-emission buses. Ralston highlighted that most of the funding is available on a first-come, first-serve basis, which has prompted the district to take a “realistic, yet aggressive” timeline for implementation of electric buses in its fleet.

Board of Education President Martha Howard said in November, “It is a mandate, and it is going to happen, so we better be in the right place.”

Silver Creek is not the first school to get a jump on electric bus purchases. The Lake Shore Central School District has already purchased and received two electric buses to implement to its fleet, while Pine Valley purchased one last year.

The District will hold its 2024-25 Budget Vote and all other related propositions on May 21 from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the High School lobby.


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