November 7th Richland County School Board Meeting

A team of representatives from Blue Bird Buses and Rousch Clean Tech attended the regular Richland School Board meeting Monday night to discuss propane fuel in transportation fleets.

Trey Jenkins, Vice President of Alternative Fuels at Blue Bird Corporation, said that the recent school bus fire in Richland Center is still under investigation, but it was clear that the incident had nothing to do with its propane fuel system. In fact, the fuel tank on the destroyed bus still had propane in it and the fuel system operated as it was supposed to during an event like that. Jenkins said that propane systems have multiple redundant safety components that shut off if there is a flow of fuel that is irregular. As far as the use of propane fueled buses in general, they are becoming more common as schools and municipalities realize their benefits. He said the fuel and maintenance costs are about 50% less than diesel, the emissions are about 3 ½ times less than diesel, they are 50% quieter, and they take less time and fuel to heat up during the winter. In total there are over 8,600 buses with propane fuel systems operating in North America, and over 23 million vehicles which operate on propane worldwide. In addition, the fuel tanks are 20 times more puncture resistant that gas or diesel, and are mounted within the framing under the bus for added safety. Finally, representatives of Kobussen Buses presented a plaque of thanks and appreciation to bus driver Mike Young for helping 17 student safely evacuate the burning bus last month.

District Administrator Jarred Burke reported that he was chosen to be a presenter at the upcoming Wisconsin Association of School Boards convention because the district is an example of a “Future Ready School.” Future Ready Schools implement digital learning strategies so all students can achieve their full potential. Burke said he was chosen because of the district’s successful passage of a technology referendum earlier this year and ways the school will implement that technology moving forward.

Students at the Richland Middle School presented information on projects they are undertaking in the building. One is called the “Smile Project” in which a committee looks for ways to create a positive environment for learning at the Middle School. Another group of students has been looking at strategies to make the parking lot and entryways safer. They showed a video of the traffic congestion and difficulties at the beginning and end of the day at the middle school. They also showed drawings of what they’d like to see for the secure entries at the building. It was stated that the board’s Buildings & Property Committee is currently considering those topics as part of the next phase of the referendum projects. The students were invited to share their findings at an upcoming committee meeting.