BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — UPDATE: The Bentonville School Board will not vote on a bus route proposal until its meeting in March.
Parents who want to comment on the plan at the next meeting must sign up by Feb. 17.
BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Bentonville Schools Board of Education is weighing the decision on whether to revise its bus stops as a way to combat the nationwide driver shortage.
Bentonville Schools Transportation Director Jason Salmons said after talking with other local school districts, he’s asking the school board to consider reducing the number of bus routes to solve their hiring struggles.
“This year has been one of the books between delays, cancellations, we are still needing drivers and still hiring, just like every school district across the nation is” said Salmons.
Just last semester, the district canceled 149 bus routes and delayed 152 because there weren’t enough drivers.
Salmons’ proposed plan will do away with neighborhood bus stops and instead, parents would have to bring their kids to centrally located stops at churches, city parks, and large parking lots. The routes would include every student that lives in a one-mile radius, forcing some parents to either walk or drive their child to their new spot.
Still, Salmons said merging bus stops would help relieve a bigger issue, as it has for other local districts such as Fort Smith, Springdale, and Rogers. For example, Salmons in a recent school board meeting where he revealed his proposal, said Bentonville Schools currently has around 115 routes and Rogers School District has around 45 routes.
“They haven’t had delays. They haven’t had cancellations. They have 50 drivers, where we have 123. It makes a big difference,” said Salmons.
Salmons says with fewer bus routes, the district would have enough drivers and could possibly put two drivers on the same bus, eliminating the need for substitute drivers on those routes.
The school board will vote on the plan Feb. 21. If it passes, Salmons said he’ll start looking at where to merge bus routes and asking permission from local organizations if they can add a bus stop to their parking lots.