NEWFIELD, N.Y.—The Newfield Central School District is eyeing three new electric school buses that will be covered by up to $1.185 million in federal funding.

The award was announced Wednesday, and is part of a large new block of funding for school districts across the country to make their bus fleets more sustainable. Newfield Central School District was one of 19 selected to receive funding statewide.

Newfield Superintendent Eric Hartz clarified that the funding is to be used as a rebate, and that the district has more to explore in terms of how exactly to apply the rebates and what is eligible under the funding.

“We now have some time to look at a bunch of things, what’s the rebate really mean and how it works,” Hartz said. “We now need to start looking at some of the things that we need to do for infrastructure here, so we’ll need to pick that conversation back up to figure out what’s going to be needed here for us to actually utilize those buses to their maximum capacity.”

Hartz said part of the funding is indeed for necessary infrastructure for electric buses, not just to buy the buses themselves. That’s an area that Hartz said needs more research from the district, but that he wants to have settled and in place by the time the buses are brought into operation.

“This is a huge boost in the push for electric buses,” Hartz said. “Once we figure out how this rebate can be applied and how it works, we can put together our plan and we’ll look to start bringing on electric buses as we can. […] I want to make sure we have infrastructure in place to utilize and charge them. It’s probably going to be six months of work on our end to make sure we get what we need. Then we’re going to look to be one of the few area districts bringing electric buses on board.”

In total, over $50 million in funding is available to the 19 school districts. The largest award, of nearly $10 million, went to Rondout Valley Central School District to purchase 25 buses. The money was made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

“As the wheels of the new, electric school busses go round and round, carbon emissions and pollution is gonna keep going down and down,” said Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in his office’s announcement of the funding. “Over $50 million will supercharge our efforts to fight climate change and power over 130 brand new electric buses to keep our air clean, kids safe and our Upstate New York healthy. I am proud to deliver this tremendous environmental justice investment that will put our students on the road to a brighter future and a cleaner commute.”

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com