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Edison School District uses ESSER funds to repurpose school bus

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Students learning industrial arts in project to refurbish an old school bus into a home.


Students in Edison School District No. 54 are learning industrial arts skills to repurpose an old school bus into a habitable home using ESSER funds that were available to rural school districts for strengthening student engagement.

The tiny 112-student school district in Yoder was one of 47 Colorado rural school districts that applied for money from the $141,000 Rural Program Development grant.

Edison received $3,000, which the district used to purchase tools and supplies for Jason Golding’s industrial arts class and its unique project to turn an old school bus into a “skoolie” – a bus converted into a tiny house.

Students in Golding’s class will get hands-on experience in electrical, fabrication and plumbing. Experience that could translate into work after graduation. The program is only just in the beginning phases, said Superintendent Dave Eastin. 

“These kids,” Eastin said, “are going to get plumbing expertise . . . electrical expertise. They’ll get everything across the board as far as the trade skills.”

Eastin said, “The grant really helped us kind of push this from a planning idea to start implementing it.” It helped “push us over the hump” he said, with additional assistance from the FFA. (Before 1988, the organization was known as the Future Farmers of America.)

With only three students to work on the bus, progress has been slow, and it will probably take a few years to complete. So far, they’ve been working on pulling out the seats. Work in earnest will begin early next year. 

The project falls into the school’s career technical education program with an FFA, career and technical education teachers. Golding’s students, by all accounts, are enjoying the work, Eastin said, and understand it can be part of the bigger idea, the bigger plan.

The aim is to get the community more involved since there are many in the area who work in the trades or could provide learning experience outside of the classroom. Eastin feels that once more progress has been made on the skoolie, it will be easier to get more people interested and willing to lend a hand.

The plan is to finish off the skoolie and sell it. Refurbished school buses listed on skoolielivin.com in Colorado have run the gamut from $22,500 to $125,000.

Any profits would go back into the program, Eastin said. “And possibly help us set up some type of apprenticeship and internship . . . maybe turn out another tiny home type of deal and see where that goes.”

“I don't believe that college is the only route,” Eastin said, “.. I believe there's a lot of different avenues for kids to go.” 

He feels the skoolie refurbishing “gives kids skills that I think are amazing. And to get that one-on-one attention with as small as we are . . .  it's irreplaceable”