Virginia School Districts Celebrate Clean School Buses

March 18, 2024

Virginia Clean Cities would like to congratulate two school districts in Virginia. These districts were awarded over $17.1 million from the Clean School Bus Grant Program!

Earlier this year, administrators and lawmakers in Virginia rejoiced over the awarding of these funds. Senator Mark Warner spoke to this occasion, saying, “I am thrilled to see Fairfax and Newport News Public Schools receive funding to invest in electric and low-emission school buses.” Greater Washington Region Clean Cities Coalition Executive Director, Antoine Thompson, also commented, saying, “We are thrilled to see the recognition and support granted to Fairfax County Public Schools… through the EPA Clean School Bus Grants.” The CSB grant is one of many funding sources available, and districts are eager to continue the move toward these cleaner fuels.

Fairfax County Public Schools, who began transitioning to electric school buses in 2021, received $16,590,000. Currently, the district has 28 electric buses, with the funding enabling 42 electric Thomas Built Jouley buses to be added.

Ronald Edwards, an assistant coordinator of fleet operations, is excited to be at the forefront of receiving electric school buses. He noted that the current buses have had minimal issues over the past 3 years, and the resources available have made this a positive transition. Edwards noted that, “Sonny Merryman’s support and partnership has been great to us.” He also mentioned the district has had support from Dominion Energy and the manufacturer through training personnel and completing warranty work.

The electric school buses have been praised by the community through events, and Edwards noted himself, school staff, and school children enjoy the reduced particulates and engine noise. As the district’s fleet of nearly 1,600 buses works to become zero-emission by 2035, Edwards remained optimistic, as he reinforced that, “We are all learning together.”

Newport News City Public Schools, who introduced propane into their fleet in 2019, received $525,000. This allows an additional 15 propane Blue Bird Vision school buses to be obtained. John Phillips, President of Phillips Energy, provided details about his experience as a supplier of propane for school districts. Phillips Energy has been in the propane school bus space since 2009, when Gloucester County Public Schools acquired propane buses.

For propane, he spoke highly about it being an effective “bridge fuel” to electric school buses. This is due to the fact that propane burns cleaner than traditional bus fuels, is more cost friendly, and has a expedited return on investment for the parties involved.

Currently, Phillips Energy manages three skid-mounted tanks for Newport News, allowing for ease of station mobility. The districts’ largest fueling station is 18,000 gallons, and station refueling is required every seven to nine days. The largest station is placed in a disadvantaged area, making a positive impact on members of the community. This partnership has allowed the districts fleet of 318 buses to be composed of 153 clean propane buses.

The Clean School Bus Program aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, provide savings for school districts, and help contribute to cleaner air. For more information, please email