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Drivers can be guaranteed 35 hours of work per week and earn a starting salary of $16.57 per hour, Mrs. Farbry said.

“While we need drivers, we are very, very picky,” she said. “We can’t settle for somebody who’s not a particularly good driver or who has another problem. That really narrows down our ability to hire a lot of folks.”

In Arlington County, schools spokesman Frank Bellavia said all 113 permanent, contracted bus-driving positions are filled and the system is working to build its pool of substitute drivers.

Nearly 9,000 students took the bus each day last year and the school system operates at least 216 routes, Mr. Bellavia said.

Alexandria school officials reported a similar situation — the school system has 96 drivers to cover 88 different routes and just one vacancy.

“We’re in good shape,” schools spokeswoman Amy Carlini said.

In the District, buses transport students with special needs. The system has its full complement of 700 drivers and roughly 750 aides to help monitor the students, but is still recruiting for substitute drivers.