Saturday, April 21, 2018
Education

Group pitches deal to Hillsborough schools for 350 propane buses

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District can save money and get its worst clunkers off the road with 350 new propane buses, a group of businesses said Thursday.

The group, which calls itself the "Hillsborough Green Bus Team," wants the district to spend $7.5 million a year on a five-year lease-purchase deal that would replace about 25 percent of its diesel-powered fleet with new buses from the Georgia-based Blue Bird Corp.

The package includes 1.5 percent interest financing from SunTrust Bank and a guaranteed fuel price of $1.56 per gallon for the first two years through AmeriGas, which would provide the fueling stations.

"This is a viable option to quickly bring the fleet up to date and regain public confidence in its service to the community," Chris Rustman, president of Florida Transportation Systems wrote in a letter to the district.

The pitch — made collectively by SunTrust, Amerigas and Florida Transportation, a dealer for Blue Bird — comes as superintendent MaryEllen Elia prepares to ask for School Board approval on June 10 to buy about 100 buses. Alternative fuels were discussed briefly at board workshops. But a consultant said the district should consider such a move carefully, weighing lower fuel costs against higher bus prices.

"We feel like we need to start buying buses right now," said district spokesman Stephen Hegarty.

At a news conference, Rustman said much of the $7.5 million yearly cost will be offset by savings on fuel and repairs, along with government rebates for green technology.

Nearly $100 million is at stake as the district revamps its troubled bus system, something vendors are eyeing closely.

Rustman made two $500 donations to the Hillsborough County Commission campaign of School Board member Stacy White in November and April. Asked about them Thursday, he said he thinks White would be a good commissioner.

White pointed out that he also got money — $500 in June —from lobbyist Louis Betz, who now represents competitor Matthews Buses, Inc., based in New York.

"So there's balance," White said. "I'll have to make a decision on June 10 in which one or both gentlemen will be disappointed."

Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or [email protected]

Comments
A Florida school shooting suspect charged with terrorism says ‘sorry’ to injured student

A Florida school shooting suspect charged with terrorism says ‘sorry’ to injured student

The young man in a white jail jumpsuit, handcuffed and shackled, looked past the throng of reporters pointing microphones toward his face, barely opening his mouth as he answered questions."I shot through the door," he said, looking at a female repor...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
After months, no action on Hillsborough’s substitute teacher problem

After months, no action on Hillsborough’s substitute teacher problem

TAMPA — Confronted in late 2017 with reports of misconduct by substitute teachers hired through a contractor, Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins said he would ask tough questions and demand answers. He had his lawyer, Jeff Gibson, ...
Published: 04/21/18
Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts

Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts

Nicole Leary and Taylor Redington stood outside St. Petersburg High School on Friday morning with parents and protesters who had gathered with bullhorns and signs. In a few minutes they would lead about 70 students on a walk to City Hall, joining oth...
Published: 04/20/18
Official: Shotgun in guitar case was used in school shooting

Official: Shotgun in guitar case was used in school shooting

FORT LAUDERDALE — A gunman who carried a shotgun in a guitar case opened fire Friday in a Florida high school, wounding one student before he was arrested on a day planned for a national classroom walkout to protest gun violence, authorities said. It...
Published: 04/20/18
Eakins: New ‘achievement zone’ would lift struggling schools

Eakins: New ‘achievement zone’ would lift struggling schools

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins is preparing to reorganize his cabinet — for the third time since 2015 — in an effort to coordinate programs at the district’s highest-needs schools.In an interview this week, Eakins descr...
Published: 04/20/18
Today: Area high school students to join national walkout in memory of Columbine

Today: Area high school students to join national walkout in memory of Columbine

High school students from both sides of Tampa Bay will commemorate the anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings on Friday, although in very different ways. In St. Petersburg, students from several schools will gather at noon at City Hall f...
Published: 04/20/18
Hooper: A tribute to my Godby High School instructors

Hooper: A tribute to my Godby High School instructors

Every time I see an algebraic formula, Mrs. Watson, Mrs. Landreth and Mrs. McBee flash through my mind.If you say history, I say Mr. Groot and Mrs. Melton. If you say civics, I say Mrs. Jennings and Mrs. Hunt.I type using the "home keys" because Mrs....
Updated: 3 hours ago
Hillsborough targets bilingual teachers’ aides in latest school cuts

Hillsborough targets bilingual teachers’ aides in latest school cuts

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District, with a large and growing population of children from foreign cultures, is reducing the ranks of teachers’ aides who help them master the English language.Next year’s workforce will have about 164 fewer...
Published: 04/19/18
Pinellas to enlist Sandy Hook group in its quest for safer schools

Pinellas to enlist Sandy Hook group in its quest for safer schools

LARGO — Starting soon, Pinellas County public schools could be using a nationwide violence prevention program founded by families of those killed during the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in December 2012.The nonprofit group Sandy Hook Promise, with ...
Published: 04/19/18

Hillsborough targets bilingual teachers’ aides in latest school cuts

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District, with a large and growing population of children from foreign cultures, is reducing the ranks of teacher aides who help them master the English language.Next year’s workforce will have about 164 fewer p...
Published: 04/18/18