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LITTLE ELM (CBSDFW.COM) – School buses in Little Elm ran on a delay Monday morning after a hailstorm on Sunday night left more than half of the fleet out of commission. Dozens of vehicles were damaged by large hailstones, and Little Elm Independent School District officials rushed to fix the situation.

The district regularly has 48 school buses for its students. All but 13 of them were damaged by hail and are now out of service.

Neighbors reported large hail falling for up to 30 minutes. Little Elm resident Ashley Varela said, “I’ve lived here my whole life and I’ve never seen it hail that bad. We were in awe. It was unbelievable.”

According to a spokesperson for the district, most of the damage is broken glass. The windows, mirrors and signal lights of the school buses were knocked out by hail. This creates a dangerous situation for any kids who would be riding on the bus, and for the drivers who would not be able to navigate traffic as well.

“We really put our students’ safety first,” said Patrice Robbins with the Little Elm ISD. “So, if it’s a broken rearview mirror or headlight or flashing lights or a cracked window… we can’t let students get cut. We can’t risk any situation that might increase danger for our students at all.”

As a result, all buses were running on a two and a half hour delay. This did not count as a tardy for children who normally ride the bus to classes. Their bus numbers and drivers remained the same. Those students who walk or carpool to school were still expected to arrive on time.

The school district has set up a phone number for parents to call with any specific questions about the bus situation: 972-947-9340. The Little Elm ISD also apologized on Facebook for the late notice. Parents were told to find alternative transportation for their kids.

Robbins said that more than 1,700 students ride the bus. There are nearly 7,400 students in the school district.

Bus routes will run as normal after Monday, despite “several days” of repair work. The school district is borrowing more buses from the Burleson Independent School District and the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw Independent School District, both of which use the same bus company.

Jennifer Lindgren