MIDDLEVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — Thornapple Kellogg Schools is cutting bus routes just weeks before school starts, citing a shortage of bus drivers.

The district made an announcement in a letter to parents dated Aug. 3.

Superintendent Craig McCarthy said they have no choice but to also create a walking zone after being short eight drivers for the school year.

“Thornapple Kellogg is a large school district. We cover 125 square miles and we have normally 31 bus drivers,” McCarthy said. “Over the course of the summer, we’ve had people decide to retire. We’ve had people for family reasons decide that they’re not gonna come back to work this fall and then we’ve had people find positions outside of the education industry.”

Jay Noble has two kids in Thornapple Kellogg Schools, one who is going into fifth grade the other second grade and is concerned about the distance they would have to walk especially in the winter.

“My biggest concern is safety. Kids while they’re walking to school. We’re talking about instead of so many buses, we’re likely to have many more cars going to the different buildings,” Noble said.

While parents are working on carpools, he wants the district to help with some of the impacts the disruption would cause.

“They should be taking the money they would be weekly, monthly … paying out to the transportation department bus maintenance that isn’t being used for drivers, that isn’t being used, and expand the before and after school childcare times and subsidize it at least,” Noble said.

The superintendent said they are working on solutions but have not discussed reallocating more funding to childcare.

“Right now, with the walking zones, we’re looking at some of the anomalies that might be out there and we’re trying to find solutions to those,” McCarthy said.    

If you are interested in applying to be a bus driver, visit the school district’s transportation website.