By Lisa Ferguson
Continued growth is on the horizon this year for the town of Prosper as well as Prosper ISD.
That news likely did not surprise anyone in the sizeable crowd that attended the State of the Community 2020 event, held Jan. 16 in the community room at Prosper ISD’s Children’s Health Stadium.
During the annual address, Prosper Mayor Ray Smith and Prosper ISD Superintendent Dr. Drew Watkins took turns at the podium speaking primarily about how the town’s explosive growth has and will continue to impact local residential and commercial development, infrastructure projects, government services, school construction and class sizes.
“There’s only one issue and that’s growth and how we’re trying to manage the growth in a way that’s least impactful on kids and families,” Watkins told the Prosper Press prior to addressing the public. “As the fastest-growing (school) district in the state, that comes with challenges.”
He later told the audience those challenges include funding the construction of additional schools and hiring enough well-qualified educators and others to staff them.
More that 17,000 students are currently enrolled at Prosper ISD’s 15 campuses. That population is projected to increase by at least 2,500 additional students each school year for the next decade. By 2025, Watkins said, enrollment may be nearly 33,000 students.
Three new Prosper ISD campuses - Furr and Stuber Elementary Schools and Hays Middle School - opened their doors at the start of the current school year already over capacity, he said.
Additional campuses have been planned. In the future, the district may be home to some 30 elementary schools, more than 13 middle schools and as many as eight high schools.
“It’s hard for people to fathom the velocity of growth that we’re dealing with,” Watkins said. “Even though we’ve been growing at really an unprecedented rate for the last decade, the next five years - it’s just coming at us full throttle.”
With additional schools come an increase in traffic.
Smith’s address included details about major road projects that are scheduled to get underway this year, including the widening of Custer Road to four lanes between U.S. 380 and FM 1461. The project, which is expected to get underway this fall, should take two years to complete.
Construction is also set to begin later this year on two lanes of Prosper Trail between Coit and Custer Roads. Also, work should wrap up this summer on Coleman Street and Victory Way near Prosper High School.
Other future road projects featured on a slide Smith displayed included the windening of the intersection of Prosper Trail and the Dallas North Tollway, set for completion in the summer of 2021.
Also, in 2026, it is projected that the main lanes of the tollway will be completed.
Smith also acknowledged the ongoing delay in widening Frontier Parkway between Preston Road and Dallas Parkway. The stretch is a frequent source of frustration for drivers attempting to enter and leave events at Prosper ISD’s Children’s Health Stadium.
The road reconstruction project has been dogged for years by design and other issues.
“That should have been built six years ago,” Smith told the Prosper Press, adding that the project has been turned over to Collin County, which is working on a design that is set to include four lanes and a bridge.
Another slide highlighted Phase Two construction of the Gates of Prosper retail center at Preston Road and U.S. 380. So far, eight multi-tenant building permits have been issued or reviewed, including one for a Kohl’s department store. A building permit for a Hobby Lobby location is under review and site plan for a Starbucks has been submitted.
Prosper has come a long way since Mary Cowling, who attended the State of the Community event, moved to the area a decade ago.
Back then, “We didn’t have a grocery store,” she recalled.
Although she wishes Prosper’s growth would slow down, Cowling acknowledged that isn’t likely to occur. She welcomes more dining and shopping options in the area. “You can’t have too much of that.”