03/07/12 — Buses not going green

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Buses not going green

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 7, 2012 1:46 PM

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Wayne County Public Schools bus 551 makes a stop today to drop off students at School Street Elementary School.

Wayne County Public Schools will not switch to biodiesel fuel for its buses, at least for the time being, despite some recent discussion about the possibility.

Dean Price, owner of Green Circle based in Benson, said he had nine meetings with school district officials about his proposal program, "Bio Diesel for Schools."

"What the program consists of is that we come into the county, reach out to restaurant owners to donate oil or give oil back to the schools at 50 cents a gallon," he explained.

Rising fuel prices are a big consideration for school districts, Price said, so having an alternative source would be advantageous.

"Right now they're hog-tied to one fuel source," he said. He added that to convert to his program would incur "no out-of-pocket costs" to the district.

"We're looking for a seven-year agreement with the schools," he said prior to Monday night's school board meeting.

But the timing was just not right for such a commitment, school Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor told the board Monday.

"I would say to you that I don't think there's a question that in the future we would have to move toward (this)," he said.

At this point, though, he explained he had concerns about issues associated with the transition.

"There are some discussions that you could do this without retrofitting," he said.

During his investigation into the matter, he said he spoke with several people, including a retired high school diesel instructor.

And while he would not take the matter off the table entirely, he said it seemed wise to wait.

"My recommendation at this time, that while we not forget about the idea, that we put it on hold for the time being," he said. "My main concern is that we do not have any mechanical problems.

"We want the process to be perfected enough that we have no concerns."

When asked by the News-Argus how many other school districts in the state are participating in "Bio Diesel for Schools," Price did not provide a direct answer.

Raymond Smith, director of transportation for Wayne County Public Schools, indicated that the local school system would have been the first to sign on.

Board member Arnold Flowers made a motion that the school system not introduce a contract at this time.

"I really appreciate Mr. Price's effort bringing this to us and by the same token Mr. (board member Rick) Pridgen did a lot of work investigating this, too," he said. "I very much, and this board as a whole very much, would like to have some type of alternative energy."

But he, too, voiced concern about the merits of such a conversion.

"Our main concern after getting all the information that we could on this is the safety and dependability for our children on the road," he said. "At this time I don't feel like it's a good match for us."

Board Vice Chairman John P. Grantham agreed, saying that based upon information the board had been given, it would not be significant enough savings.

"We know we're going to have problems with it," he said. "People that have used it have had problems. It's not a matter of turning away savings to the county.

"Basically, the only one that would be happy with it would be Al Gore."