Local bus awardee becoming rare breed

Farragut school route bus drivers such as Deborah Ditchfield with BLJ Bus Lines, who was one of five earning a Knox County Schools Bus Driver Award earlier this fall, apparently are a dwindling breed.

“It’s very difficult to find bus drivers,” said Susan Horn, Board of Education District 5 representative that includes Farragut schools, during an address to 5th District Democrats on various school issues.

Though Knox County Schools has “invested $1 million each year in transportation” according to Horn, she added, “Since our buses are contracted we can’t tell the bus drivers’ contractor what to do with the extra money that we give them.

“But they want to have bus drivers as much as we want them to have bus drivers, so we’re hoping they’re passing that [extra funding] along when they can to be able to increase the salaries of their bus drivers.”

Horn, featured speaker during 5thDD’s monthly Thursday evening meeting, Nov. 16, in Rosarita’s Mexican Cantina, also touched on health preparedness.

The current student-to-nurse ratio in Knox County Schools “is one nurse for every 3,000 students,” Horn said to a surprised crowd reaction. “The National School of Nursing Organization recommends one for every 750.

“We don’t have full-time nurses in all our schools, but all of our schools have nurses,” she added. “… Our local government is funding all those extra [nurses] with no money from the state.”