Hello Prosper ISD! The 2021 year will be closing this month and it is hard to believe how quickly the first half of the school year has gone. We have had an incredible start to this school year, and on behalf of your board of trustees and district administration, I want to thank our students, families, staff, and community for supporting our district. I want to share a few highlights from Prosper ISD.
Amidst all the normal excitement of the first day of school, we were thrilled to open two new elementary schools – Mrs. Jerry Bryant Elementary and Mike and Janie Reeves Elementary. Both new schools were funded from the voter-approved 2019 bond, and we had wonderful ribbon-cutting ceremonies for each campus earlier in August, setting the tone for learning excellence and honoring each school’s namesakes. There is nothing better than recognizing and honoring members of the Prosper community who have made a true and lasting impact by naming a campus after them. And what a thrill to see those families walk through the doors of those facilities for the first time! When the doors finally opened for business on the first day of school on August 11, we had more than 600 students walking the hallways of both campuses.
Opening new schools is always fun, but there is a business side to opening those schools as well. Every new elementary we open costs the district about $4 million dollars in new campus staffing. So, while hyper-sonic growth like what we are seeing makes staffing new schools difficult, it also creates a huge budget planning challenge, because our funding is tied to student attendance and those numbers are so hard to predict.
It is important to note that 83 percent of our expense budget goes toward staff salaries, with the other 17 percent mostly going toward fixed costs like transportation and utilities. As you can imagine, it is challenging to reduce the expense budget when the majority of it goes toward things we don’t want to cut, like staffing, or things we can’t cut, like buses or keeping the lights on!
Despite these challenges, our administration and campuses worked diligently last year to trim expenses wherever possible, without impacting the strong educational and extracurricular opportunities people move to Prosper for. Even better, we were able to lower the tax rate from $1.67 in 2019 to $1.49 in 2020 to $1.46 in 2021. The tax rate in Prosper ISD is at an all-time low. That is great news for our district and for our taxpayers!
Our students continue to amaze and impress! We had 107 Prosper ISD students recognized by the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program. This is an all-time high for Prosper ISD. Congratulations to these students for being identified for their academic talents, and a big THANK YOU to all the teachers, parents, and leaders who helped them along the way!
We continue to have success with our sports and fine arts at both Prosper High School and Rock Hill High School. The Prosper High School Girls Cross Country Team took 2nd at UIL State in November, and this is the best finish in school history. In addition, we had 23 student-athletes sign on early signing day to play at the next level and continue both their athletic and academic careers. What a great way to continue our legacy of excellence.
Finally, I want to share that Prosper ISD was named for the eighth year in a row as the Top 100 Places to Work in DFW. This is such a prestigious award because our competition is not only school districts but businesses too. The reason we are able to continue to shine is because of our students, staff, parents, and community. I would also like to thank the Prosper ISD School Board and Prosper Education Foundation for their unwavering support. You all are the best and together we continue to do amazing things!
Thank you for choosing Prosper ISD! We are grateful you are part of the Prosper family, where we are Grounded by Tradition, and Soaring to New Beginnings!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to you ALL!
Dr. Holly Ferguson
Prosper ISD Superintendent