Driving a School Bus?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Ken Scharabok, Nov 28, 2005.

  1. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    See article below. Do any of you have experience as a school bus driver? If so, the good vs bad points? What ever happened to the safety patrol (usually older boys near the start of the route) on school busses?

    Updated: 11:41 AM EST
    America's Schools Short of Bus Drivers
    By Emily Bazar, USA

    A shortage of bus drivers across the country is leaving children stranded at bus stops for hours and forcing school districts to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime to get kids to and from school.
    In some districts, such as Fulton, Mo., and Fairfax County, Va., school administrators are getting out from behind their desks to drive a route.
    Those in charge of transporting kids say they don't blame parents for being upset about it. "If I was a parent, I'd be livid," said Linda Farbry, Fairfax County's transportation director
    Other areas that have experienced problems include Scottsdale, Ariz.; Austin; northern Indiana; and Southern California.
    "Some (schoolchildren) weren't getting picked up until an hour or two after school started," said Scott Johnson, spokesman at the Moreno Valley Unified School District, 65 miles east of Los Angeles.
    Farbry's school district has tried numerous ways to bring in drivers, including upping starting pay 22%, from $12.90 per hour last year to $15.78 this year. Yet it is short 153 drivers.
    Like other districts, this Northern Virginia county makes up for the shortfall by lengthening routes and manipulating school start times. Despite these efforts, "children (are) being picked up erratically, arriving at school and home late," she said.
    Michael Martin, executive director of the National Association for Pupil Transportation, said driver shortages are chronic and fluctuating, and are not confined to a particular geographical area.
    One factor is that the pay does not compensate for the unusual hours. Martin says school bus drivers make an average of $13.50 an hour for jobs that are often part-time with no benefits and available only when school is in session.
    "There are some places that can guarantee only four hours a day," said Kevin Orzechowski, director of development and safety for Laidlaw Education Services, which contracts with school districts to provide transportation. Of the 180 West Coast and Midwest locations he manages, there are driver shortages in about 15, particularly Southern California.
    In an expensive community such as Fairfax County, a suburb of Washington, residents can't afford to live on a bus driver's salary, Farbry said.
    As a result, she says, the district is attempting to recruit drivers from two populations: Retirees and parents of young children, who are allowed to bring their kids on the bus with them to avoid day-care costs.
    She still has to sell a job that has become harder as children have become rowdier. Farbry and other transportation officials acknowledge that kids have become more difficult to control.
    What's more, before applicants make it on the bus to play disciplinarian, they must pass criminal, medical and drug screenings. And they must have good driving records and references.
    The requirements have become more stringent in recent years. In the 1990s, for instance, the federal government mandated random alcohol testing.
    "Those who are interested in driving usually don't qualify," Farbry says.
    11-25-05 07:49 EST
    Copyright 2005 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc. All Rights Reserved.
     
  2. JJ Grandits

    JJ Grandits Well-Known Member

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    Believe or not, I leave in a couple of minutes for my winter job. Driving school bus. That $13-15 dollars per hour is beyond my wildest dreams. Not a bad job. Have to like kids and be tough as nails or they'll walk all over you. I transport the hardcore ones,but they're OK.
     

  3. brushe

    brushe Member

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    I too am getting ready to go drive a School bus. We lost one driver so far this year and they put some of the kids on my bus and some on another and did away with her bus instead of trying to find another driver. We get paid $13.05 an hour if you been there three years. Plus we get $10.50 a day from the county and $100 a month extra if we don't miss a day from work in that month.
    I agree the kids are getting worst and they don't want to do any thing to the bad ones. I have a good group this year on my main run. Then in the afternoon I have to run to another school and pick up the ones that can't make it in the main school. They can be a hand full, but there is only 12 of them at the most.
    I've been doing it almost 11 years. It not a bad job but I agree it hard to get enough hours so you can get benefits. I just don't like working nights and weekends and most of the jobs in this area you have to work those hours. I better be going or I'll be picking up kids late.
    Becky
     
  4. Loriann1971

    Loriann1971 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My husband is the director of transportation for our school district and his drivers have a great job. They make 17.87 an hour and the kids in this disctrict are great. The worst discipline problems they seem to have are a child not sitting in his assigned seat or a child standing up! (Yikes!)
    They also get the opportunity to bid on extra runs like field trips or away games and if these trips put them over 40 hours a week, they get time and a half! Sub drivers get $13 an hour in our district. He has two floating subs that show up every day and get paid for two hours if there isn't a bus to drive. He just has them do stuff around the garage or office and then if there is a driver out, they get the extra hours to do that drivers run. I think that it is a great job. Maybe the shortage has to do with misconceptions about the pay and dealing with kids and things like that.
     
  5. Justaplain

    Justaplain Well-Known Member

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    Did it for 13 years. The biggest problem is parents, who are sure thier child was born in a manger.
     
  6. crystalniche

    crystalniche Well-Known Member

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    Here in CT school bus driving is not a good job. A friend just a few weeks ago tried it and ended up being fired for not being able to contol the "kids" on the bus. First off he was only making a little over minimum wage. Then being his very first time out with a bus load of kids they gave him the worst bunch there because no one else wanted that run. They should have given him a chance to learn the proper way to control them but they didn't. He got on the run and they started in---high school age with behavior problems to start with. Those kids were even smoking and burning the seats and refused to listen to him---there wasn't anything else open to him so he took them back. The kids refused to listen to him when he tried to control them. He could not put them off the bus or touch them to make them change their seats to separate them. There was little that he could do and they knew it. I've heard this same thing about driving a school bus in our state before. You try to discipline the kids and the parents come down on you hard saying "I have to work, I can't drive my kid to school." so nothing much gets done. There was this one boy age 7!!!! who was molesting the little girls both on the bus and at school. They had the hardest time getting him off the bus and into a special school for kids like him because his parents protested so loudly. Maybe this isn't going on in other states--hopefully it isn't---but it sure is going on here.
     
  7. momshobbies

    momshobbies Member

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    I drove for 13 years . I was a job that just fell into my lifestyle , my three kids were young and I could be up with what was going on in school. I loved the job , I miss the kids a bunch. The bus company and the school administration was my biggest growl. Seems as tho they lost there backbone over the years , and if you dont have anyone to stand by you and support you of course it looses its glimmer . The laws are getting scarey also , it is such a sue happy world and I worked to hard for what little I have to lose it so quickly. Just my thoughts.
     
  8. Alice In TX/MO

    Alice In TX/MO More dharma, less drama. Supporter

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    "What's more, before applicants make it on the bus to play disciplinarian, they must pass criminal, medical and drug screenings."

    Too bad the kids don't have to pass the same tests. :viking:
     
  9. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    Our area has a shortage of school bus drivers. The one that runs the route by my house has tried to retire the last 4 years, They can't find a replacement so he keeps coming back. Besides the license and backround check I believe they also have to pass the Praxis test which is academic skills. Obviously the job is part time with a split in the day while the kids are in school.
     
  10. rkintn

    rkintn mean people suck

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    I drive a school bus in West TN. I didn't have to pass a Praxis test. I enjoy driving the bus just wished we were paid a little more. I also sub in the cafeteria and as a teacher, when called. We are also short of drivers. We have had a couple quit due to illness and a couple quit because of the kids. Yes, the parents are usually more problems than the kids, but I think alot has to do with the attitude of the driver also. I have been very blessed and have a wonderful route with good kids.
     
  11. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    BINGO!!!

    I was a bus supervision person for handicapped....then for the "naughties" who could no longer attend local school due to bad behavior....after a death threat and the superintendent telling me that "I don't feel it warrants concern" I quit....given that cousin to the perp is in jail for murder at age 18....younger brother already did time at juvey....

    There is a growing wild bunch these days....and most parents will just say "my Johnny would never do that" when given a consequence....

    Its a thankless job that I would not recommend...not to mention how it might feel to have a student get hurt by traffic that often ignores bus lights....every day we had this problem...often several times a day....
     
  12. I believe here in Oklahoma the law states that children can not be on the school bus more then one hour to and from school. So if a route extends more then one hour they have to start a new bus route or shuffle the kids to another bus route.

    With that in mind most drivers are only going to be driving just 2 hours per day. But there are a few drivers who can put in around 6 hours per day. Some drivers have a morning and evening route and then have extra driving time taking kids back and forth to technical schools. Also, extra hours for transporting students to and from ball games and field/class trips.


    Bus driving is a good suppliment to farming/ranching income.
     
  13. Bruce in NE

    Bruce in NE Well-Known Member

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    In my part of rural nebraska there are no school buses. Kids get to school any way they can. Buses would break the financial back of districts around here.
     
  14. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Try driving hospital vans.Same split shift and no kids,but only 8-10/hr out here.About 4-5 hours/day.

    BooBoo
     
  15. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    Our schools are title 1 so to keep funding they have everyone taking the Praxis including bus drivers, cafeteria workers and aids. Unless you grandfathered in you take the test pre employment along with the finger printing and backround checks. It's alway important for the lunch lady and the bus driver to know algebra and sentence structure. This is probably stopping a lot of new hires also as you have to pay for all of this out of pocket along with the hassle.
     
  16. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    My mother has been driving school bus for 25+ years. She gets paid year round (they adjust the checks so they take a bit out during the school year for the summer months), she has good benefits and is part of the S.E.R.S. (the School Employee Retirement System) which is better that most 401k's. She works the whole day by doing kindergarten routes also so she gets about 7.5 hours a day.

    They are ALWAYS looking for drivers and will pay for all your training and state testing and your cdl also.

    Every federal holiday off, every school holiday off, not a bad deal overall.
     
  17. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    Each to their own, I'd rather push a broom at McDonalds I think. Or drive a truck loaded with dynamite.

    Also remember some areas are not low income friendly (high rent areas) yet are finding that few people want long commute for low end part-time jobs (transportation costs more than job pays). Well if yuppies force all lower income people out through pure greed, they better learn to deal with these jobs themselves. Hard to be an Indian chief if you dont have any braves.
     
  18. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    Forgot to add:
    My mom makes about 19.00 an hour, and any field trips etc are time and half.

    Subs start around 13 and are up to 15 when they go full time.

    It is a real good job if you have things you do around the house to make money and just need the insurance and the little extra. You can still work around those by doing just a morning and afternoon route (no kindergarten) and get abgout 4.5 - 5.5 hours. The worst thing in my opinion is if you hang out at the trans. department and get sucked into the politics of it.

    One thing that alot of the people that start there do is transfer to other departments in the school. They get the listings first. Admin in the office/maintenence/janitorial/garage etc.
     
  19. jerneeon

    jerneeon Well-Known Member

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    I USED to drive a school bus. First for public schools in Lincoln, NE, then for Headstart in Medford, OR.

    The Headstart kids were great.

    On the other hand, it was a nightmare in Lincoln. The elementary kids were fine, but I also drove for the worst kids from the worst neighborhood who went to the worst school. I had a police officer who rode with me on occasion who told me I had a busload of criminals and he had arrested almost every last one of them at one time or other.

    I got that particular route after the first driver quit after two days. The first day, some kids in the back started a fire on the bus. The next day, one threw a vodka bottle at her head and almost knocked her out. Delightful bunch. I lasted 6 months. I started getting migraines and heart palpitations every day. They were monsters from hell.

    I think the reason most drivers don't last is because adults don't have any rights anymore. We can't punish them, take away their rights to ride if they don't obey the rules. I would never recommend driving for middle school kids. They are Satan.
     
  20. freeinalaska

    freeinalaska Well-Known Member

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    It's good to see, based on a few posts, some school bus drivers are getting some OK wages other places in the country. Our drivers get $11.75/hr up here. They have the typical bus driver stresses with the troublesome kids and their parents who think they are angels, but added to that is driving in snow and sub-zero temperatures. Some routes require putting tire chains on and taking them off twice a day for most of the winter. We do not take snow days off up here. If we did we would not be able to complete a school year. I believe school has been closed due to weather five days in fifteen years.