Austin area school districts are getting creative to save dollars during the current education budget crisis. Eanes Independent School District is implementing several cost-saving measures to help offset a multi-million dollar shortfall.
Eanes ISD won a $2.2 million grant to purchase propane powered buses. Transportation Director Tim Wysong said the buses could save $75,000 a year in fuel costs and another $25,000 a year in maintenance costs.
Eanes ISD will get the propane buses this summer and put them in service by the fall. The 25 buses will replace the district’s oldest, least efficient diesel powered buses.
“Every dollar we can save here we can put towards children,” Wysong said.
Wysong said the cost of a gallon of diesel fuel has risen 74 percent since 2008. He said propane costs less than diesel, and it burns cleaner.
Eanes ISD also requires bus drivers to idle three minutes or less. Wysong says turning off the engine has so far saved the district $1,000 per week.
Austin ISD has a no idle policy unless there are special circumstances.
AISD also received a grant to buy propane buses; six will start service this fall. The school district has 478 buses that transport 22,000 students every day. AISD buses travel 7 million miles per year.
Eanes ISD parent Robyn Post supports cuts outside the classroom. She believes the propane buses could save badly needed dollars.
“I would rather cut fuel prices through this new program rather than cutting teachers and important staff members to help educate our children,” Post said.
Eanes ISD also added GPS monitoring devices to every school bus. The district has since shortened routes and consolidated stops.