In a Denton Christian Preschool classroom, a group of 4-year-olds smiled as they learned how to spell their peers’ names. A few doors down, singing echoed in another classroom as students sang a song titled “10 Little Pumpkins.”
But in a room across the hall, school officials were worried the singing could temporarily end if they don’t figure out how to replace two buses that were heavily damaged in an accident Friday.
On Friday morning, a motorist lost control of his vehicle, which jumped the median on University Drive, crossed the school parking lot and damaged two of the school’s three buses, according to a police report.
The motorist crashed into one bus, causing it to smash into the other. One bus was declared a total loss Friday. Officials believed they could salvage the second bus, but when it was sent to be repaired Monday, officials were told the damage was too extensive.
According to police, the motorist lost control after he had a medical problem. He was airlifted to Plano Medical Center.
“It’s just one thing on top of another,” said Alicia Blanca, Denton Christian Preschool interim director. “If we don’t find a way to pick up our kids, I don’t know what we’re going to do.”
The preschool transports about 60 students daily to and from school, and drivers are now forced to make several trips with one bus.
The loss of the buses and recent budget cuts have placed the school in a difficult spot, officials said. The preschool is a United Way of Denton County partner agency. United Way had to cut more than $90,000 from the school’s budget in the last two years because of a drop in funding.
“We’re trying to take it one day at a time right now, and right now, we are at a standstill,” Blanca said.
Gloria Thomas, Denton Christian Preschool board member, said the buses were insured, but the payout does not cover the cost to replace the vehicles, and the school has yet to hear from the insurance company of the driver. One of the damaged buses was three years old and cost $53,000, while the other was six years old and was purchased for $41,000.
“Unfortunately, they only give you what it’s worth now,” Thomas said.
One of the most valuable services the school provides is transportation, she said.
“All of our students receive government-assistance lunches, which means they live below a certain economic level,” Thomas said. “Our bus service is very valuable to the families we serve, who probably can’t provide transportation.”
On Monday, the school had about five students who were absent because they did not have a way to get to school, officials said. Thomas said the school needs the community to help, or the school’s doors may close.
“We’re just hoping we don’t have to close,” she said. “These kids need to be here learning.”
Preschool officials are asking for help from community members and any donations they can give. All vehicles donated to the school must have the proper safety features for preschool students, which includes seat belts and booster seats.
“We just can’t take everything or any vehicle we’re offered. They have to meet safety standards and be safe for our kids,” Thomas said.
Anyone who would like to help or donate to the school may call Blanca at 940-383-3332.
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .