Following the opening of applications for the 2022 Clean School Bus Rebate program last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a document of priority applicants in each state that are designated high-need school districts or severely low-income areas.
This list includes districts listed in the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) School District Estimates for 2020, which have 20 percent or more students living in poverty and school districts located in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
During a webinar on Tuesday, EPA representatives said applicants will also be prioritized if they are considered rural and identified with locale codes “43-Rural: Remote” and “42-Rural: Distant” in the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data for school year 2020 through 2021, if they are Bureau of Indian Affairs funded school districts, and if they receive basic support payments under section 7703(b)(1) of title 20 for children who reside on native land.
The EPA stated that most public charter school districts are excluded from the list but may be prioritized if they self-certify that 20 percent or more of their students are from families with income below the poverty line on their application.
Jason Wilcox with EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality added that school districts that are not on the prioritized are still encouraged to apply, though if selected they may receive fewer funds.
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Several questions were asked during the webinar, including the process for applying for a mixed fleet. Wilcox added that districts can request more than one fuel or energy type on the application, however, the funds for both electric and propane, for example, will only come out of the “clean school bus” funding, and not the zero-emission funds.
Wilcox noted that applicants can stack local or state grants on a Clean School Bus grant, but other federal grants are not allowed. He advised school districts and organizations to be cautious and do their homework on where grants originate, adding that grants disbursed by states could still originate from a federal program.
Additionally, the EPA noted that the one application limit of a total of 25 school buses, is specific only to the fiscal-year 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates program.