School board meeting talks virtual academy, more

By Aubrey Turner
For the Prosper Press
The next Prosper ISD School Board meeting is December 13 at 7 p.m.

The virtual academy was a leading topic during the most recent meeting of the Prosper Independent School District's school board meeting. Superintendent Holly Ferguson gave a brief update on the temporary program 

“This online option is available for students kindergarten through 6th grades and currently has an enrollment of about 200 students. 

"The K - 2nd grade students are taught by Prosper teachers," Ferguson said. "For grades 3 - 6 are part of Pierson Academy.  Parents are less pleased with the instruction in this academy.  We are in communication with this academy and are working to better meet the needs of these students.  As we always say, the best option is our own teachers in our own classroom, but we understood that some parents were concerned about their students returning to classrooms before being vaccinated.”

Two public comments were given.  Janelle Davis spoke about class size waivers. 

“My concern is when the teacher is absent and there is no substitute.  The classes are then divided between other classes and that number for the teachers that are present get such large classes for that day.  I am concerned about our teachers and students on these days.”  

Amy Lancaster commented about her feelings to the school board. 

“I am so disappointed in you,” Lancaster said. “You were elected and you have failed us miserably.  You are allowing Critical Race Theory and allowing LGBT flags and floats in the homecoming parade.  I am so shocked and disappointed that the high school children are shown CNN in the mornings.”  Lancaster also read a variety of Bible verses.

Ferguson addressed this issue as part of the class size waivers. 

“We have so much growth and there are low workforce options for substitutes,” Ferguson said.  “We are going to need to hire more paraprofessionals and substitutes.  This is happening across many industries.”   

Valarie Little is the director of athletics for Prosper ISD. 

“We are about making better athletes, better people, who respect all members of our society.  We make sure to focus on an expectation of excellence, academic success, being good people, and celebrating the history of PISD athletics.  We have almost 3800 kids in athletics, which is 38% of middle school students and 33% of high school students.” 

“We know that extracurricular activities help students be engaged in school,” Little said. “They have higher GPS’s, higher test scores, as well as less discipline offenses.  Our athletes have better attendance.  With sports, we have an extra person who is pushing them to do well.  We make our kids feel like they belong.”   

“This program is a success, and we celebrate them as they win,” Little said. “We had 23 children sign for college last week alone.  We show up for these kids.  Other districts see that people from our board, our principals, and our superintendent show up for these games.”   

The district is developing the course list for the 2022-2023 school year.  Potential classes that may be added next year include Emergency Medical Technician, Kinesiology I, Medical Interventions, Advanced Video Game Programming, Sports Officiating, Practicum in Digital Audio Technology, and Comprehensive Wellness.  These will still need to be approved from TEA.  The board approved all the courses except Comprehensive Wellness.   

The board approved spending for technology supplies for elementary 15.  Elementary 16 and the Early Childhood Center were both approved.  Because there are supply chain issues, these are approved earlier than necessary to give time for supplies to arrive when needed.  Elementary 16 and Early Childhood Center will not break ground until spring/summer in 2022. 

The board approved the purchase of one large bus and four smaller buses.  This was funded after an audit found extra money in the budget.  These buses will have cameras and, when necessary, harnesses for the smaller buses.