COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON - Three Rivers Community Schools Facilities Director Brian Leonard (left) and TRCS Transportation Director Kenni Jean Schrader (right) show off a national award the school district won for its electric school buses at Monday’s TRCS Board of Education meeting. The award was given to them in July by School Transportation News in association with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

TRCS wins national award for adoption of electric school buses

THREE RIVERS — Three Rivers Community Schools’ transportation department was nationally recognized recently for its adoption of electric school buses in their fleet.

On July 17, the district was awarded the Green Bus Summit Fleet Award by School Transportation News (STN) in affiliation with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a part of the United States Department of Energy. TRCS was one of five winners of the award nationally, which recognizes school districts for their adoption of alternative fuel and energy.

The district won the award in the Rural District Under 50 Buses category. Other winners included the Los Angeles Unified School District in California in the Large Public Fleet category, Kansas City Public Schools in Missouri in the Medium Public Fleet category, Salt Lake City Public Schools in the Small Public Fleet category, and contractor Student Transportation of America in the Large Private Fleet category.

According to STN, fleets were judged based on emissions reductions realized, impact on the local community, measured student and driver health improvements, and the commitment to purchasing green buses going forward. A total of 48 nominations were submitted earlier in spring.

TRCS Transportation Director Kenni Jean Schrader was presented with the award, which was given out at STN’s annual expo in Reno, Nev.

The district currently has two electric buses in its fleet, both of which were unveiled in December 2019. The buses were part of a pilot program for electric buses through the Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation, and were purchased partly via $472,164 from the State of Michigan’s Volkswagen Mitigation Grant Funds, which covered 70 percent of the bus cost and up to $3,500 of charging unit costs. Both buses currently run routes in the city limits.

Schrader and Facilities Director Brian Leonard brought the award to Monday’s TRCS Board of Education meeting, with Leonard noting the accomplishment for the district.

“I want to thank Kenni Jean and the Transportation Department for all they do to provide safe and efficient transportation services for our students and to strive to lead Three Rivers Community Schools’ transportation department into the future,” Leonard said.

Schrader said she was “truly honored” the district was chosen for the award along with bigger districts across the nation.

“I feel like this doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to us,” Schrader said. “I want to thank you all who’ve been with me from the beginning and all who joined along the way to share this truly incredible experience. I’m truly honored that out of the nation, we were chosen. I’m looking forward to seeing what we do next.”

Following the meeting, Schrader said the district has applied for a portion of federal funding to potentially buy two more electric school buses for the fleet, with winners to be announced later this year.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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