By Ken Lay

Interim Knox County School Superintendent Buzz Thomas announced a plan to bring an end to the school system’s transportation problem, which includes a shortage of bus drivers.

He made his plan public at Tuesday’s Board of Education workshop meeting at the Andrew Johnson Building.

Knox County Schools has been plagued by lack of bus drivers for the last few years and Thomas is proposing that the school system hire a transportation logistics expert but said that he knows that the problem won’t be solved overnight.

“We want to hire a transportation logistics expert,” Thomas said. “It’s going to take a while but we’ll get it done.

“We currently have 70 different contractors and we are currently pre-purposing some funds that we have in our budget. We’ve been in touch with the mayor’s office, the University of Tennessee, some trucking companies and some transportation experts.”

While still in the inaugural planning stages, Thomas said that the funds to hire a transportation logistics expert will be revenue-neutral. He noted that the funds will be transferred from the school system’s security budget.

He also said that the money was made available because the school district was unable to fill some open security positions throughout the county with competent personnel.

He also assured the board that each school has enough security after board member Gloria Deathridge asked about the state of school security.

Thomas also announced that the process of naming a permanent superintendent is ongoing. He announced that the school board has scheduled a pair of community forums to receive public input.

The first event is slated for Sept. 15 at 5:30 p.m. and the second will be held on Sept. 20 at 5:30 p.m.

The locations for the forums were unavailable at press time.

“We wanted to hold off on announcing the location until the new board chairman and co-chairman are in place,” Thomas said. “We will also have a website where we will solicit on-line comments from the public.”

Thomas also welcomed a pair of new hires to Knox County Schools including Director of Public Affairs Carly Harrington and Director of Human Resources Kelly Drummond.

Harrington has already joined the school system while Drummond will officially come aboard later this month.

Thomas also announced that Gresham Middle School science teacher Nicole Resmondo  was heading to Washington, D.C. to receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

“She is one of our rock star teachers at Gresham,” Thomas said of Resmondo. “We have several rock star teachers there. This is a great honor for Nicole and our district.

Resmondo received her award Wednesday, She was one of 219 educators to be honored nationwide.

Oak Ridge High School math teacher Mary Vaughan was another area teacher honored last week at the White House.