Arizona plans to use two-thirds of its Volkswagen settlement money to replace around 300 old school buses in low-income communities. File photo

Arizona plans to use two-thirds of its Volkswagen settlement money to replace around 300 old school buses in low-income communities. File photo

PHOENIX — Arizona plans to use the majority of its Volkswagen (VW) settlement money to replace old school buses.

Gov. Doug Ducey released the school bus replacement plan in June. It accounts for about two-thirds of Arizona’s $57 million share of the VW Environmental Mitigation Trust. In all, the trust is providing states with $2.9 billion for projects to cut nitrogen oxide from large vehicles.

Under Arizona’s plan, up to $37 million will go toward purchasing around 300 new school buses in low-income communities across the state, replacing buses that are at least 15 years old and have more than 100,000 miles. The funds will be allocated to school districts with 60% or more students eligible for free or reduced price lunch, and to the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind.

“K-12 education remains our top priority,” Ducey said in a press release. “These dollars will go a long way towards making sure Arizona students are safely delivered to school every day. Additionally, putting these dollars toward the purchase of new school buses will free up existing funding sources, allowing school districts to focus on other capital needs to benefit students.”

Eligible school districts will get up to $110,000 for a new lower-emission diesel school bus and up to $135,000 for a new alternative-fuel school bus. Under the plan, an estimated 80% or more of the new buses will go to school districts in counties that are at risk of violating federal air quality standards.

Arizona’s plan for its total $57 million share of the VW money also includes replacing or repowering fleet vehicles for the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management.

The application period for Arizona’s VW mitigation school bus replacement program opened on Aug. 14 and closes on Sept. 28. Awards are expected to be announced starting Nov. 1. For more information, go to vwsettlement.az.gov.

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