JACKSON • North Tippah and Benton County are among 15 school districts awarded funds from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to the purchase of new school buses for the upcoming school year. The grants, $354,700 in total, were provided to the school districts toward the purchase of new diesel powered buses with more stringent pollution controls to replace older buses thus reducing emissions of particulate matter, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide. Since 2009, the MDEQ Diesel School Bus Replacement Program has awarded over $1.30 million to 50+ school districts for the purchase of 100+ school buses.

“Thousands of Mississippi children ride school buses daily. MDEQ continues its efforts in ensuring those students have the safest and most efficient means of transportation. Not only will the students benefit from a cleaner school bus, but the environment will as well,” said Chris Wells, MDEQ Executive Director.

Benton County School District  received $35,470 for two buses and North Tippah School District received $17,735 for one bus.

"North Tippah is grateful for the opportunity to receive the funds to go toward purchasing a new bus and replacing one of our older models," said North Tippah Superintendent Scott Smith. "Jay McCoy, the North Tippah Transportation Director, applied for the grant and researched the criteria necessary to obtain the funds."

Other school districts awarded the grants were Clinton Public School District, East Jasper School District, Greenwood-Leflore Consolidated School District, Grenada School District, Long Beach School District, Marshall County School District, New Albany School District, Picayune School District, Pontotoc County School District, Prentiss County School District, South Sunflower Consolidated School District, Union County School District and Winona-Montgomery Consolidated School District.

MDEQ has also encouraged school districts to adopt anti-idling policies and the implementation of such a policy is a requirement for the districts that received funds for buses this year. Stricter emissions standards for diesel engines, including school buses, were implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2007.

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