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‘It’s going to be millions’: Central Square hits pause on purchasing electric school buses

CENTRAL SQUARE N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Central Square School District didn’t need to pull out all the stops when they decided to wait on buying electric school buses for the largest geographical school district in the state.

“There are so many unknowns, and we will continue to lobby with the governor’s office and state education department explaining to them that Central Square is over 220 square miles,” said superintendent Thomas Colabufo.

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Close to 100 vehicles would be needed to cover the district, and then there’s the infrastructure.

“It was determined that we would need 4,000 amps,” Colabufo said. “National Grid came back and said we can’t do that, we can only do 3,000. We need an additional thousand to pull off what we need to do.”

He says purchasing the vehicles would need to be part of a capital project, or on the governor’s dime.

“When you look at electric buses, they are saying the batteries and the shelf life is only five years and you need to bond for them for 12 years,” Colabufo said.

The issue goes beyond just buying electric school buses. The school district would also have to create a new facility that would house charging stations and replace gas pumps.

“It’s going to be millions of dollars to build the power supply and transformers at our bus garage to do this and we’re going to have to put all new lifts because the electric buses weigh a lot more,” Colabufo said. “It’s pretty much going to be a new bus garage.”

Based on feedback, the superintendent says the community seems alright with the pause.

“I received probably 65 emails and phone calls from community members who were pleased we weren’t going to go down the road to purchase a couple of electric buses just to say we have them, but without the infrastructure,” said Colabufo.

A power play by the superintendent.

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