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.