School Committee to Consider Fuel Efficiency Standards for School Vehicles
Meeting minimum standards would help town earn Green Communities Designation from state.
The Westwood School Committee heard for the first time about a fuel efficient vehicle policy it is being asked to adopt in order to help the town earn a Green Community Designation -- and the grant money that comes with it -- from the State.
Plans to meet fuel efficiency standards for town vehicles comprise one element required to gain the designation, which if attained would earn Westwood around $150,000 in grants to be reinvested in green programs, according to Westwood Environmental Action Committee chairman Peter Kane.
If the committee were to adopt the policy, the town at large would be one step closer to earning the distinction and grant money. The Board of Selectmen, which has already adopted the policy for vehicles under its governance, has asked that the School Committee consider the proposal, according to Superintendant John Antonucci.
The committee would need to establish legislation that introduces a plan for replacement of its auto fleet with fuel efficient vehicles (as defined by State guidelines) and set goals for when the replacement will occur. Vehicles that weigh over 8,500 pounds would be exempt.
Committee members had questions that they hope to hear answers to at a second reading in June. Committee member Brian Kelly wanted to know the types of vehicles the district would be required to replace theirs with.
"Fuel efficiency is all well and nice," he said, "but [not] if you have to spend thousands more on a hybrid."
Kane told Kelly that the legislation would not require the purchase of hybrids and said the efficiency requirements (29 miles per gallon for a two-wheel drive car, 20 for a two-wheel drive pickup or truck) were unlikely to be cost-prohibitive.
Vice-Chairperson Ellen Mason wanted to know the current fleet's fuel efficiency, information about the district's annual fuel budget and the savings the replacements may represent before she could formulate a position.
Weston, Dedham, Newton, Milton, Somerville, Arlington, Lexington, Natick, Sherborn, Cambridge and Boston are all amongst the 86 cities and towns in Massachusetts to have earned Green Community Designations.