BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — On Tuesday, the Bentonville School Board unanimously approved consolidating bus stops starting next school year.

The change will happen in two phases. The first phase starts in the 2023-24 school year and will impact neighborhood stops. Phase two would start in the 2024-25 school year and impact rural and isolated areas.

Transportation director Jason Salmons said the change will help combat the bus driver shortage and will offer more reliable transportation.

“Combine many of those little stops along the way, not going to the larger stops. If we reduce bus stops in these neighborhoods, this will help us reduce the stops and what’s currently taking us two drivers to do, one driver can do,” Salmons said.

Under the new plan, students could have to walk up to a mile to get to a stop.

Bentonville parent Katherine Hawkins spoke at Tuesday’s board meeting and said having farther bus stops will be a safety concern.

“A two-block walk from the bus is a lot less dangerous than a mile walk for the bus, there’s a lot less opportunity for stranger interaction and for predator interaction,” Hawkins said.

Parents will be able to give feedback to the district about the new bus stops and will also be able to choose the stop that’s most convenient for them.

The district will also consider adding stops at places like the Walmart Home Office where parents can drop their kids off at the bus before going to work.