Voters in Prosper ISD are starting to weigh in on a $2.8 billion bond package that would affect nearly two dozen school buildings.
Although the election is on November 7, early voting opened on October 23 and will continue through November 3.
While Dallas ISD has been losing students for years in part due to poor student achievement outcomes, other North Texas school districts, including Prosper ISD, have been scrambling to keep up with increased enrollment. STAAR exam results for the 2021-2022 school year indicated that only 41% of Dallas ISD’s students were at grade level, significantly below the 48% statewide average.
Prosper ISD has seen enormous growth in student enrollment. Its schools went from catering to 6,413 students a decade ago to 28,197 today. Student enrollment is projected to reach 45,647 over the next decade.
As covered previously by The Dallas Express, Prosper ISD’s board of trustees approved the bond to expand school facilities in response to the surge in student enrollment.
“As one of the fastest-growing school districts in the state that attracts more than 3,000 new students each year, we must continually evaluate our facilities and support systems to determine if our learning environments, equipment, and infrastructure are equipped to best support the future for our children and community,” Prosper ISD Superintendent Holly Ferguson said in a statement, per Community Impact.
She added that school facilities were already struggling to house students, with almost 5,000 being taught in portable classrooms.
The district broke ground on its fourth high school in August, as previously covered by The Dallas Express. Richland High School will span 530,000 square feet and include a separate 75,000-square-foot multipurpose building.
However, Prosper ISD officials argue that more facilities are needed.
The bond includes a plan to build 10 new schools and renovate 12 older ones. Comprising the lion’s share of the bond package, Proposition A amounts to $2.4 billion, with some funds also going towards new school buses and security measures.
The other three propositions look to make technological upgrades to campuses ($140 million), build a second district-wide 8,000-seat stadium and upgrade the older one ($95 million), and erect a new 2,500-seat performing arts center ($125 million).
“We’re in the middle of hypersonic growth,” said Ferguson, according to CBS News Texas. “In order to be ready for all the growth impact that is happening here, we have to be ready to build to provide high-quality facilities for students and staff.”
Yet some residents have reservations about the bond, such as Aileen Blachowski, who suggested to CBS News that the cost projections for the new school builds were too high.
“We are growing at an unprecedented pace, but so are other areas in Texas, and they are able to build schools that provide learning environments that are perfectly suitable and that are at market rate. This is not a market rate. We can do better,” Blachowski said.
Her children no longer attend Prosper ISD. She is involved with Texas Education 911.
On the other hand, Jim Bloom, another resident and a parent to a 9-year-old in the district, said he supports the bond. He claimed, “It’s going to help your home values, it’s going to do the greater good for the community.”