A week into the new school year, students in Prosper Independent School District are being stranded as buses fail to show up on schedule. Parents in the affluent district north of Dallas-Fort Worth are fuming.
One Prosper mom called it “a gigantic failure of epic proportions.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” she told Texas Scorecard.
Kids at Prosper High School weren’t picked up by a bus until 5:30 at night. Most kids were standing at bus stops with at least one-hour delays. Some disabled students weren’t picked up for two hours or at all.
Parents were notified the night before school, at 9:40 p.m., that significant delays due to shortages would occur. Many parents didn’t receive the email.
She also said there was no support for all of the parents now forced to drop off and pick up their kids.
“Long, long lines and traffic blocking,” she said. “This has never happened before.”
Other parents shared similar stories on Facebook, upset with how the district handled the bus debacle, making a bad situation worse with poor communication.
On Wednesday, the sixth day of the new school year, Prosper ISD parents finally received an apologetic email from Superintendent Holly Ferguson explaining the situation.
“Regarding transportation, we missed the mark. Period.” she said. “And we are here to take responsibility for that.”
Ferguson cited several issues that led to the bus failure: an enrollment of over 1,000 students more than the district expected; a national bus driver shortage; and a “computer software programming malfunction” between the bus routing system and the app that monitors buses’ locations, now reportedly fixed.
As of Wednesday, she said the district is still 36 drivers short but is in the process of hiring more drivers and has raised the starting pay to $25 an hour.
In the meantime, many drivers are covering multiple routes, and staff are also driving buses.
While several parents said they were satisfied with Ferguson’s message, others said it was filled with nicely worded excuses for a driver shortage known about months in advance. One district dad noted, “Imagine if this kind of communication would’ve gone out a week earlier, prior to start of the school.”
“We are not perfect,” Ferguson said, “but we keep trying.”
Besides bus drivers, Prosper ISD’s website lists dozens of job openings, including for teachers.