ALC Schools Success Story: Garland ISD (Texas)

The School District

Garland Independent School District (ISD) ranks as the second-largest district in Dallas County alone. It’s also the fifth-largest in Dallas-Fort Worth and the 15th-largest in Texas.

GISD has technology-driven campuses, magnet programs, and approximately 200 Career and Technical Education courses. It educates 55,000 students across 72 campuses and is among the 75-largest in America. It even boasts a diverse population that speaks more than 100 languages.

Our family of three cities shares a vision that serves to provide an exceptional education to all students.

The Challenge

A devastating tornado at the end of winter break scatters district students to temporary housing across the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

The Solution

ALC Schools Student Transportation Solutions

The Value

Reliable and high-quality student transportation
Flexibility to expand and contract services as needed
Ease of doing business
Customizable reporting meets school board requirements

Category 4 Tornado Devastates City; Highlights Need for Alternative School Transportation

In December 2015, Garland was hit by significant tornado outbreaks that destroyed homes and damaged property. Jeremy Smith, Assistant Transportation Director for Garland ISD recalls jumping into action the minute he heard about the devastating tornado. “I had been traveling during the winter break and called my boss right away to ask what I could do to help,” he said.

Following the tornado, Garland ISD calculated that more than 1,000 students and their families had been displaced. Many students were residing within the boundaries of neighboring school districts, some living as far as 60 miles. “The federally-mandated McKinney-Vento Act requires school districts to provide transportation, free of charge, to students who are displaced by homelessness, so that they may continue to attend the school in which they were enrolled before displacement,” continued Smith.

Stop-Gap Transportation Measures Demonstrate Need for Sustainable Student Transportation

Garland ISD came back from winter break and quickly affirmed a temporary plan to ensure transportation for its displaced students. “We began by having teachers and staff who were living in various parts of the Dallas Metroplex, but working for Garland ISD, transport the displaced students who were living near them in rented Chevy Suburbans. This was more of a stop-gap for us and not a sustainable solution,” said Smith.

It wasn’t until a neighboring district transportation director recommended ALC Schools that Garland ISD reached out for McKinney-Vento transportation services. “We set up a meeting with the ALC team and were immediately impressed by their responsiveness, the quality of service they offer, and their experience with McKinney-Vento,” added Smith.

Soon enough, the district was up and running with ALC after its approved proposal among its school board. “One of the things we discovered after we began working with ALC was their ability to work across districts,” continued Smith. “One of the provisions in McKinney-Vento is that both the student’s district of origin and the district in which they are residing while displaced must share the cost of the transportation. ALC was great to work with on this as they knew how to work with shared billing arrangements, and work across districts to maintain quality of service.”

Even After the Rebuilding Process, School District Identifies Ongoing Need for ALC Schools Services

It took between 18 months and two years for things to normalize with Garland ISD following the December 2015 tornado. “By fall 2017, most of our students returned to living inside district boundaries. While the high demand for ALC services was diminished, we still saw tremendous value in our relationship and the services they provide our district,” said Smith. “For example, the reporting they give us enables us to pinpoint for our school board exactly how we are utilizing their services, how many students we are transporting and from where, and the cost of each trip. This helps tremendously in terms of budgeting and planning.”

While having tried other alternative student transportation services, Smith found EverDriven’s offerings to be most reliable. “Other transportation services may be cheaper, but with ALC Schools we get a level of service and accountability that outweighs any cost concerns,” continued Smith. “The adage ‘you get what you pay for’ certainly rings true in this case.”

Garland ISD continues to use ALC for its McKinney-Vento students, including special trips. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to revise our services contract and were not using ALC as much, but in early 2021 when things began to normalize, we were able to quickly increase our usage and we greatly appreciate the flexibility ALC has afforded during this time,” said Smith.

They now use ALC services to also transport their “newcomer” students and migrant students taking English and specialized classes. “From day one to now, the ALC staff have been tremendous to work with and I can’t thank them enough for their partnership with Garland ISD,” concluded Smith.

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