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Arizona school districts to buy buses with Volkswagen settlement cash

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

PHOENIX — More than 50 school districts across Arizona will buy new buses using nearly $16 million from a lawsuit settlement with Volkswagen, it was announced Thursday.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s office said 55 districts and charter schools will purchase 142 diesel or alternative fuel buses with the money.

Another $16 million for buses was expected to be awarded soon, Ducey spokesman Patrick Ptak told KTAR News 92.3 FM. A timetable for those announcements was not given.

“Finding new, innovative opportunities to increase much-needed resources for K-12 will continue to be a major focus of my administration,” Ducey said in a statement.

“The purchase of these school buses will ensure that schoolchildren will be safely transported to and from school and that schools can leverage these dollars or use cost savings from efficiencies to further update their fleets or for other capital needs.”

Arizona school districts have seen transportation and maintenance budgets plummet due to the Great Recession and many buses are worn out.

Volkswagen settled a federal lawsuit over an emissions cheating scandal two years ago. Arizona was awarded $57 million.

The state earmarked $38 million to purchase an estimated 280 school buses under the Arizona Lower-Emissions School Bus Program.

The program said public schools with a bus that is over 15 years old and has more than 100,000 miles on it were eligible for a diesel or alternative fuel replacement bus.

Arizona officials have received 118 applications from school districts and charter schools asking for 362 buses at a cost of $40.4 million.

The rest of the money from the Volkswagen settlement will be used for wildland fire crews and Department of Transportation equipment.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ashley Flood and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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