Olentangy Local Schools is among 31 Ohio school districts awarded grant money from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to reduce emissions from buses.

Olentangy Local Schools is among 31 Ohio school districts awarded grant money from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to reduce emissions from buses.

The $79,400 grant will pay for environmentally friendly modifications to 14 buses, Superintendent Wade Lucas said.

The buses will be retrofitted with diesel multi-stage filters and closed crankcase filter systems, which should reduce fine-particulate emissions by 50 percent, Lucas said.

"This grant will help us improve general air quality and reduce children's exposure to diesel exhaust," transportation director Lori Carter-Evans said in a press release.

The 14 buses are 2001-02 models that will be kept in the fleet for at least five more years, Lucas said. Most of the district's newer buses already have such pollution-control devices.

"Olentangy uses 127 buses daily," covering more than "1.5-million miles each school year," Lucas said.

The upgrades to the buses were not in the district's budget and wouldn't have been possible without the grant money, district spokeswoman Karen Truett told ThisWeek.

The filters do not cover a new clean-air mandate from the government but will decrease exhaust pollution, reducing approximately 40.6 pounds of fine particulates per year.

The $1.87-million that the Ohio EPA has awarded to the 31 school districts comes from a combination of $975,587 in stimulus funds awarded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and $896,384 in civil penalties collected by the Ohio EPA for violations of the state's environmental protection laws, the EPA said.