VINTON -- The decision to go from diesel to propane gas to power school buses has reaped a few more benefits for the Vinton-Shellsburg Community School District than may have originally planned.

Jay Christy, New Century Farm Service, visited with members of the district’s school board after presenting a rebate check for $7,000 to Mary Jo Hainstock, district superintendent.

Christy explained that the check was part of a rebate offered by the federal government to entities using propane fuel.

“I checked the paperwork at the office,” Christy told the board, “and this district has received north of $21,000 through the rebate program.”

The rebate covered the year 2017. “We (fuel providers) have no idea if the rebate program will continue,” Christy stated. “We did not find out until several weeks ago that the rebate was available for 2017.

“During the 2016 year we knew in advance so we were able to discount the fuel that the district used during the year instead of a lump sum like this year,” Christy said.

Being a federal program, Christy shared that they may not learn until the end of the current year that the rebate program is in place again.

The staff at New Century Farm Service “has been a great partner to work with,” Hainstock told board members. “Before we (the district) got its own storage tank, staff was coming to the bus barn to fill tanks.

“Then once we received our storage tank, they conducted training with staff including Randy Arndt, our transportation director, after Keith McGowan retired,” she added.

Christy told board members that because of the success of the Vinton Shellsburg school district that he was aware of several other districts across the state that had made the change to propane.

“In the past I have referred a number of people to speak with Keith about the pluses of propane,” Christy stated.

Hainstock agreed that she had spoken to a number of administrators about the switch the district made.

“I’ve been at this long enough to know how the money works,” Christy stated. “The monies that school districts use to purchase buses come out of  the PPEL funds, while the money to actual make those buses run come out of your general fund. We feel the change to propane fuel is a good thing for school districts, he added.

With many marks in the positive column for buses, Hainstock and board members asked Christy if he could talk to bus manufacturers, like Bluebird, about making the larger buses that use propane as fuel.

“When this board was looking at bus purchases we were unable to get a larger bus that used propane,” Hainstock pointed out.