MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

May 12, 2013

CNG buses part of MPS bond proposal

They’re promoted as helping to save money, environment

By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Tuesday’s ballots will feature two school bond issues in Muskogee — one for $47.5 million and one for $2.2 million.

Neither will raise property taxes, officials said.

Muskogee Public Schools is seeking a second bond in addition to a larger, 10-year bond to fund major building repairs, build more classrooms and laboratories, provide laptops to students in seventh grade and up and more projects.

The $2.2 million bond is for transportation needs only. State law requires the district to put transportation funding in a separate bond proposition, officials said.

Superintendent Mike Garde said the $2.2 million would go toward getting the district’s fleet to “go green.” Most of the money would pay for 12 buses that run on compressed natural gas.

Garde said CNG costs 90 cents per gallon, which will result in substantial fuel savings and be cleaner for the environment.

According to research done for The Clean Air Task Force by an independent scientific consultant, CNG buses save approximately $11,000 a year in fuel costs for each bus, greatly reduce the release of cancer-causing particulates and greenhouse gases, and typically cost about $30,000 more to purchase than diesel.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that natural gas will continue to be significantly cheaper than diesel fuel for at least the next 20 years.

Garde said the district looked to Kansas City for information on the success of using CNG buses.

“What we learned from Kansas City is that the buses last longer, they cost much less for fuel, and they run much quieter,” he said.

A portion of the $2.2 million bond issue will go toward other district vehicles, too, he said.

“We are also going green on our fleet for our maintenance crew,” Garde said. “Part of that will be electric cars and part CNG vehicles.”

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.

What to do

WHAT: Bond election for Muskogee Public Schools.

WHEN: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

WHERE: Early voting is Monday at the Muskogee County Election Board, 400 W. Broadway. Tuesday voting is at polling places.

INFORMATION: Two bond issues are proposed — one for $47.5 million for technology, repairs and building projects and one for $2.2 million for district transportation projects only. Neither bond issue will raise taxes.