OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — More than 700 students in the Blue Valley School District will need to find another way to get to campus next year after the district opted to cut multiple school bus routes. 

On Monday, the school board voted 5-1 to approve a plan eliminating 10 bus routes in the 2023-24 school year amid an ongoing bus driver shortage.

“Throughout the second semester it’s been a pretty continuous problem of having at least a dozen drivers short on a daily basis. That number has actually grown in the last week or two to above 18 consistently, and up to 20 [drivers absent],” Deputy Superintendent Kyle Hayden told the board Monday.  

The state of Kansas requires school districts to provide transportation for students who live 2.5 miles or further from their school. Blue Valley previously allowed families to pay for their student to ride the bus if they lived less than 2.5 miles from the school. 

Last spring, the school board voted to eliminate the pay-ride option for middle school and high school students living less than 1.5 miles from their school.

Starting in the 2023-24 school year, Blue Valley will no longer offer a pay-ride option for middle school and high school students living between 1.5-2.49 miles away from their school. 

The change will impact approximately 764 kids, including 567 students at the middle school level and 197 students at the high school level. 

“We aren’t recommending a change to the elementary school pay-rider program at this time. What this does for us is, we already had more middle school and high school routes than we has elementary [routes], so this levels it out,” Hayden said.

A lack of bus drivers isn’t a problem exclusively impacting Blue Valley Schools. Last week, the Olathe School District announced plans to cut more than 30 bus routes due to a lack of bus drivers.