KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Last year, the Knox County Schools Board of Education leaders were thinking about hiring a third-party cleaning service to help with the gaps in hiring custodians. Now, they are talking about the issue in detail.

At a work session Monday night, the board members talked about plans to sign with the Duncan & Sons Building Maintenance, LLC for janitorial services at 17 locations in Knox County Schools. The contract would be about $1,040,000.

In the meeting, the members discussed how there is no room if someone is out sick and that the position is stretched too thin.

There are currently more than 80 open positions and 16 schools within the district are less than 61% of the staff needed to operate properly. One of the repercussions of the issues was mice found at Hardin Valley Elementary.

There were also talks about how the job application includes almost 12 pages of questions. The position also pays $10.03 an hour and starting hourly wages in other areas outside of Knox County are just two dollars more.

Board members discussed how many of the current custodians are retiring due to exhaustion. Custodians say the benefits are unmatched but the compensation is the biggest “want” currently.

“One particular principal, I’ve heard from him several, for several months, he’s been raising this issue. He’s needed help for quite some time,” Susan Horne from District 5 said during the work session. “So it’s an ongoing issue, it has not gotten better in the last several months and this contract is a short-term contract that will be able to give them assistance now in schools which we desperately need.”

The school board will make a vote on Wednesday, Jan. 11 during its regular session meeting. Monday night was a work session.