State Auditor Rob Sand is encouraging Iowa school districts to apply for federal infrastructure grants to replace aging diesel powered buses.

The grants can be used to buy buses that are battery-powered or run on propane or compressed natural gas. Sand said the federal program puts no limit on how much money goes to each state.

“If we do a good job of getting applications in, we could really make great investments in our school bus fleet and great investments in reducing costs for our school districts in this state,” Sand said.

The application deadline is August 19. Sand said more efficient school buses could make a big impact on a district’s budget.

“Now that inflation is a problem and we are dealing with high fuel prices constantly, this could be an incredibly promising program for a lot of school districts to be able to save a good amount of money,” Sand said.

The grants come from the bipartisan infrastructure bill congress approved last year. The program is for replacing buses that are at least 12 years old. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a list of 204 public school districts in Iowa that would be prioritized for grants because they are rural or serve a student body with a high poverty rate. The Meskwaki Settlement School is also on the EPA’s priority list for bus replacement.

(Reporting by Iowa Public Radio’s Grant Gerlock; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)