Superintendent's Weekly Message

Together We Can, Together We Will, Build a Brighter Future

District Acquires First Electric Bus

February 28, 2024

Dear Hollister High School parents, students, staff and community:

A new electric bus has joined the San Benito High School District transportation fleet, fully funded by grants from the Monterey Bay Air Resource District and the California Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project.

The fully-electric, 83-passenger bus is valued at $495,000, all of which is paid for by the grants. Additionally, the Air Resource District awarded the District an additional $20,000 to upgrade and add to its on-campus charging station for this and other vehicles.

Kristy Bettencourt, the District’s Maintenance, Operations and Transportation and Facilities Manager, on Tuesday night invited the District Board of Trustees and other guests for a short ride on the bus in the neighborhoods around campus.

She noted that the bus looks like a diesel-powered bus, except it has blue tire rims and blue bumpers to indicate its status as an electric vehicle. The bus has the phrase “100 percent Electric” on the side of its roof as well.

Another unique feature of the bus is the chime-like song that plays on the inside and outside of the bus as it travels under 18 mph, similar to the sound electric cars make when they back up to alert pedestrians that the vehicle is in motion.

Energy-Saving Trips

Delivered to campus last week, the bus is rated to travel about 120 miles between charges. Ms. Bettencourt, who told passengers on the evening tour that “it’s exciting to get our first electric bus,” said she expects the vehicle will be used to transport students to and from athletic competitions or field trips in Monterey County, though trips to San Jose and beyond will be reserved for other buses until the mileage per charge is confirmed. The bus features rust-resistant composite body panels, and a one-piece fiberglass roof that eliminates the need for rivets that become potential leak points -- minimizing service expenses and maximizing usage time.

Environmental Stewardship

Hollister High School in 2023 was named a California Green Ribbon School for its environmental stewardship efforts, which have included the planting of drought-resistant plants and trees, campus recycling programs, bioswales to capture stormwater runoff and the addition of solar panels on the north and south sides of campus. Since the implementation of campus energy efficiency projects in July 2017, San Benito High School District has achieved savings of more than $2.1 million. What’s more, that decrease in energy consumption translates to the following green equivalencies: removing 355 cars off the road; preserving 46,284 trees from deforestation; and powering 201 American homes.

The installation of solar panels in Baler Alley along with the addition of efficient HVAC and climate control systems throughout campus have reduced electrical consumption by thousands of megawatt hours. The addition of rooftop solar panels on the Career Technical Education Building and the ground mount solar farm in the southwest corner of campus, both of which recently came online and will continue to pile up the energy savings for the District.

Green Machines

The District’s electric vehicle fleet includes an electric shuttle bus, electric carts for on-campus transportation and the electric food carts that are used daily on campus. Many of these vehicles were also funded through grants pursed by Ms. Bettencourt.  

Our District’s continued efforts to maximize sustainability exemplify our efforts to save money while also creating an efficient and climate-friendly vehicle fleet. Ms. Bettencourt’s work to secure grant funding and stewardship of the funds to build out a fleet that relies less and less on fossil fuels is another example of how every day is a great day to be a Baler!


San Benito High School District Superintendent Dr. Shawn Tennenbaum

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District Facilities Master Plan

With nearly three dozen projects finished to date, San Benito High School District’s Facility Master Plan is nearing completion, the culmination of years of work from a dedicated team devoted to continually improving the learning and teaching environment.

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San Benito High School District, 1220 Monterey St. Hollister, CA 95023