ST. LOUIS — Lead producer the Doe Run Co. will offer a total of $500,000 to help Missouri school districts retrofit their bus fleets and improve environmental practices in school science labs.

The move marks the first of several community-based environmental projects slated over the next two years as part of Doe Run’s 2010 agreement with the EPA.

School districts in Jefferson County, Mo., can apply for the grants between now and July 2013. Doe Run will make grants available on a first-come, first-served basis. Any remaining funds will be made available to school districts in Dent, Iron, Washington, Scott and Reynolds counties beginning Aug. 1, 2013.

“It is important to Doe Run that we provide enduring benefits to our communities, and these two projects are excellent examples of that commitment at work,” said Gary Hughes, general manager of Doe Run’s Primary Smelting Division. “This program will help establish a safer and healthier environment for Missouri students, and is one example of our commitment to operating sustainably — balancing social, economic and environmental responsibilities.”

A total of $300,000 in grants will be provided to retrofit diesel-powered school bus engines to reduce emissions. School districts will be required to share data reporting reductions and progress with Doe Run.

The company will also contribute $200,000 to help schools remove hazardous waste or old chemicals from their science labs, photo and art studios, and darkrooms, as well as to provide training to school personnel who oversee these learning environments.

“Providing a great learning environment for students is our No. 1 priority, and these efforts will help us protect that environment for years to come,” said Stan Stratton, superintendent of Dunklin R-V School District in Herculaneum, Mo. “Doe Run is an avid supporter of our district, and we look forward to the possibility of working together to improve our fleet.”

For more information, go here.

Other recent news on school bus funding:

EPA names winners of $2 million in school bus rebates

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