'It was a wild chase for cars': District 203 purchases four electric vehicles for driver's ed fleet

  • Naperville Central and Naperville North high schools received six driver's education vehicles -- including four electric vehicles -- as part of an emergency purchase by the district.

    Naperville Central and Naperville North high schools received six driver's education vehicles -- including four electric vehicles -- as part of an emergency purchase by the district. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Updated 9/20/2022 5:11 PM

Less than two months ago, Naperville Unit District 203 officials faced the daunting task of finding a fleet of vehicles for driver's education classes.

At Monday's school board meeting, though, Superintendent Dan Bridges made a surprising announcement.

 

Not only did the district secure three vehicles apiece for Naperville Central and Naperville North high schools, he said, but the cost also ended up being more than $100,000 under the budgeted amount of $350,000 in emergency funding.

The district was able to secure four electric vehicles as part of the purchase. With the savings on the budgeted amount, officials will dedicate about $28,000 for the installation of charging stations at the high schools, leaving the total expenditure at less than $267,000.

"It was a wild chase for cars, but we did it," said Chala Holland, an assistant superintendent for the district. "We were all around making sure that we were securing cars for our program, and it all worked out."

In July, Bridges requested emergency funding from the school board after learning the district no longer would be provided with vehicles from a local car dealer. The request had a high limit of $350,000 because of the uncertainty in the availability of cars due to ongoing supply-chain issues in the industry.

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Bridges said every effort would be made to keep the expense below the budgeted amount, which was accomplished by district officials locating 2022 Chevy Bolt electric vehicles at four different dealerships in Bolingbrook, Genoa, Glendale Heights and Sandwich. Two 2021 Chevy Trailblazers were purchased from a Lisle dealership.

The electric vehicles came with more than $25,000 in rebates, putting the purchase price for the six vehicles at about $238,000, including the instructor brake kits and other necessary additions.

Because permanent charging stations will be installed over the next two to three months, district officials said, temporary stations are currently being utilized at the high schools.

Electric vehicles have become a recurring topic of conversation with the school board. In March, some board members expressed frustration with the district's inability to begin shifting to electric buses.

On Monday, board President Kristin Fitzgerald noted the driver's education purchases as a sign of progress.

"We know that this was an emergency authorization and that it was a race," she said. "It looks as if we made some real progress on some areas the board has really been concerned about in terms of electric vehicles."

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