Power utility helps prepare district for battery-powered buses

As Northeastern Wayne School Corp. marches toward the electrification of its bus fleet, other schools may be dropping off because their support structure won’t be ready for it.

Northeastern schools received notification that the federal government is providing a $2.37 million grant to buy six battery-powered school buses in the next two years. Northeastern is the only Wayne County district to receive the funding.

During an update on Jan. 18, Superintendent Matthew Hicks told the school board that representatives from Hoosier Energy have contacted the schools to help them get ready for the buses. It turns out there is more to it than just installing charging stations. Hoosier Energy supplies electricity that Whitewater Valley REMC provides to Northeastern. Among concerns is the time of day when buses can be charged: there might be some times when charging the buses would exceed the available power.

Hicks also said there is a chance that some schools that initially received grants might not be able to upgrade to support the buses. If that happens, Northeastern might apply to receive additional money from the unused portion.

In other business during the meeting, new board member Dan VanDuyne took his oath of office. He represents the Webster Township district.

Administrators reported on programs at their buildings and Jessica Neill, assistant superintendent, talked of progress on the district’s strategic plan.

The board also recognized students of the month. They include Emerson Belcher from the Early Learning Center; twins Alley and Reed Whitehouse from Northeastern Elementary School; Jaxxson Messer from Northeastern Middle School; and Nolan Drake from Northeastern High School.

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Bob Hansen is a reporter for the Western Wayne News.