Moreno Valley Unified School District held a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Tuesday, November 29 to celebrate the arrival of thirty-eight buses and completion of charging infrastructure.
Moreno Valley Unified School District held a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Tuesday, November 29 to celebrate the arrival of thirty-eight buses and completion of charging infrastructure. Credit: mvusd.net

Prince James Story

Moreno Valley Unified School District (MVUSD) has been at the forefront of innovation for schools across California. 

In August, Moreno Valley High School opened their new, cyber innovation and Esports lab, and just recently, MVUSD  added another major accomplishment to their district’s legacy this time in the environmental justice realm. 

They secured 38 new electric school buses for the district and expect to have eight more buses before the end of the school year.When that happens, MVUSD will  have the largest electric school bus fleet in California. 

“We’re looking for ways to be innovative and to serve and support our community in a way that demonstrates we’re looking at the environment, and that we’re making sure we’re adding to the quality of life, explained Moreno Valley Unified School District Superintendent, Dr. Martinrex Kedziora. 

“In an area that has a lot of warehouses, we decided as a school district, that we would look at how to make the air better and the quality of life better in our own community.” 

Attendees were all smiles during the ribbon cutting ceremony in front of the new Cyber Security and Esports Lab in Moreno Valley, another innovative strategy implemented  by MVUSD. The facility opened  in August 2022 and California Superintendent of Schools Tony Thurmond was there to cut the ribbon for the grand opening . (Courtesy of Moreno Valley School District).

Dr. Kedziora was recently the recipient of the Outstanding Superintendent Recognition Award of Riverside County at its 2022 Educational Leadership Summit. 

“Dr. Kedziora is an exceptional leader,” said School Board President Cleveland Johnson in a press release. “We are all proud of him for this achievement. We are happy to have been able to be there to support him and be there as a team. He is truly making a difference and serves as a model for others to follow.” 

Raising funds for clean energy buses

MVUSD’S quest to provide clean energy buses in the district started in 2018 when the district began securing grants for their purchase. The school district successfully raised about 11 million dollars in grant money for the initiative. 

“With this transition of Moreno Valley’s school bus fleet to electric, current and future generations of children will be able to start and end their school days in much healthier environments,” said Cameron Funk, CEO of InCharge Energy. “Our partnership with MVUSD has been inspirational and a great reminder of why we do this work. We’re excited to see how this project encourages other school districts to make the switch, which will help alleviate a variety of community health and social challenges.”

Dr. Kedziora praised the director of transportation Jim Burleson for his hard work securing the grants and keeping the buses operational. 

Dr. Kedziora explained how Burleson’s efforts exceeded his expectations. “I’m grateful for his leadership. He’s changed and transformed what we do, and transportation, and how we serve and support students in a greater way.” Dr. Kedziora said Burleson  is often up early in the morning making sure the electric school buses are charged and ready to go before school hours. 

“We’re looking for ways to be innovative and to serve and support our community in a way that demonstrates we’re looking at the environment, and that we’re making sure we’re adding to the quality of life, explained Moreno Valley Unified School District Superintendent, Dr. Martinrex Kedziora. (facebook.com).

“Through fantastic partnerships, collaboration and our dedicated school bus drivers, we currently transport 1,100 students in zero emission school buses,” Burleson said in a press release. 

School Bus Options and Positive Environmental Impacts 

Deploying 46 electric school buses will reduce CO2 Emissions by 600 metric tons annually. This is equivalent to removing 285,700 cars from the streets of Moreno Valley. 

Outside of Electric school buses the school district also has 31 buses that use propane, 28 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses, and 12 gasoline buses. 

According to the Propane Edcuactional and Research Council, “Propane buses offer many of the same environmental benefits of electric — but at a fraction of the cost. They travel farther, refuel more quickly, and even have a smaller carbon footprint. That means a clean, quiet ride for every child.”

Propane buses release up to 96% less toxic emissions than diesel buses. They have a lower carbon footprint than electric school buses because they produce 43% fewer green house gas emissions compared to the electric school buses. 

Among the benefits of CNG buses is each natural gas school bus displaces 1400 gallons of diesel fuel per year and natural gas is up to one-third less expensive than diesel fuel on an equivalent energy basis according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s  Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC).

People of Color make up the majority of residents in the City of Moreno Valley. (oehha.ca.gov).

The MVUSD bus fleet could help mitigate the pollution problems in the Moreno Valley community whose residents are primarily people of color. The west side of Moreno Valley also ranks among the highest in the state for ozone pollution. Ozone exposure (smog) is associated with decreases in lung function, worsening of asthma, increases in hospital admissions, and a higher death rate, according to CalEnviroScreen

Prince James Story

Report for America Corps member and Black Voice News Climate and Environmental Justice reporter, Prince James Story was raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He is an intersectional journalist with experience covering news and sports across numerous mediums. Story aims to inform the public of social inequities and discriminatory practices while amplifying the voices of those in the communities harmed. Story earned his master’s degree in Sports Journalism from Arizona State University-Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He earned a B.A. in Mass Communication and a B.A. in African American studies from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Contact Prince James with tips, comments, or concerns at Princejames@blackvoicenews.com or via Twitter @PrinceJStory.