- Associated Press - Thursday, August 13, 2015

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Knox County Schools officials say a shortage of school bus drivers is forcing some students to arrive at school early or stay late this year as drivers run double routes.

Multiple media outlets report that officials say the county needs about 35 additional drivers now that service agreements for three routes have recently been terminated by two contractors.

The school system contracts with independent providers who operate more than 350 buses.

The school system’s Chief Operating Officer Russ Oaks says contractors have told him they are having a hard time finding qualified drivers willing to do the job.

“That’s a very multifaceted issue,” he said, noting the hours worked by bus drivers, the school system’s greater expectations from them and the pool of applicants. “I think the other issue that contractors are facing is it’s a time-consuming process to identify someone who wants to be a driver, get them a license and all of the background checks and bring them on board. That process can take several weeks.”

Knox County Bus Contractor’s Association spokesman Doug Davis tells the Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1NcvH2h ) that contractors have been trying everything they can to recruit more drivers.

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