MetroWest report


THORNTON — The Propane Education and Research Council announced last week that itdonated $5,000 to the Adams 12 Five Star Education Foundation in recognition of the Adams 12 Five Star district’s effort to improve students health and safety by adopting a propane-powered bus fleet. 

The donation is part of the commodity check-off program’s new campaign to educate consumers about the benefits of transitioning away from diesel and other “dirty” fuels.

“Diesel has long been the standard in school transportation, but for districts that want to reduce harmful emissions, save money and create a safer, healthier ride, propane is an excellent alternative,” said Roy Willis, PERC president and CEO.

Adams 12 Five Star Schools first started transitioning to propane-powered buses four years ago. Now, of the 158 buses in its fleet, 25 run on the alternative fuel. 

According to David Anderson, director of transportation and fleet services, the propane models are “cleaner, quieter, and more efficient school buses.” Compared with diesel and compressed natural gas, propane quickly showed the greatest benefits.

“We have purchased propane buses each year due to their performance and mileage,” Anderson said. “Our cost per mile for a diesel is in the $.50 cents per mile range, and a propane bus is $.32 cents per mile. Fuel cost is a big factor.”

Anderson added that propane-powered buses have helped to promote a healthier, safer environment for students in the district. According to PERC, propane buses also reduce exposure to diesel exhaust, which the World Health Organization classifies as a carcinogen.

“Our drivers and maintenance technicians love these buses,” Anderson said. “Not only can they avoid the hassles that come along with our diesel engines, but they run so quiet, they can hear what’s going on in the back of the bus. It’s really a safer situation for everyone.” 

As a nonprofit, the Five Star Education Foundation strives to improve the overall quality of life in the Adams 12 community through investments in educational services. Through the foundation’s Five Star Grant Fund, teachers and administrators are able to bring new and innovative programs to the classroom. 

In the past year, the Foundation sponsored programs such as kindergarten literacy and science expeditions, e-books for AP physics students, middle school math differentiated grouping initiatives and school community gardens.

“By funding these types of programs, we are helping Adams 12 students achieve their full potential” said Mary Litwiler, Five Star Education Foundation’s executive director. “Today’s very generous contribution from PERC will benefit all of our students.”

Schools across 45 states — a total of more than 7,000 buses — have transitioned to propane, according to PERC. Twenty of the top 25 designated market areas and four of the 10 largest school districts in the country are now using them. 

The trend prompted PERC to launch an awareness campaign early this fall to teach communities about the benefits of propane-powered transportation. The council has partnered with journalist and former teacher Jenna Bush Hager, and the nonprofit Adopt a Classroom, to donate more than $25,000 nationwide to teachers at schools adopting propane buses.

“It’s clear when you talk to school administrators and transportation departments that they are saving more than just dollars and cents by going with propane buses,” Hager said. “The switch is improving their school as a whole and giving them the opportunity to invest in more teachers or school programs.” 

For more information on propane school buses, including bus safety tips for parents and kids courtesy of the National Association of Pupil Transportation, visit