SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Local students are back in the classroom, but many districts are facing challenges with bringing students to and from school. That’s because they’re still dealing with bus driver shortages.

There’s an empty seat at the helm of your child’s education.

“Our bus drivers are the first ones our kids see in the morning and the last ones they see in the afternoon,” Saratoga Springs Superintendent Michael Patton said.

A statewide school bus driver shortage is forcing many districts to cancel routes more regularly. In Saratoga Springs, parents are seeing more alerts that tell them their child’s bus won’t be showing up — sometimes with only hours notice.

Superintendent Patton said he has just barely enough bus drivers.

“Because we are very thin, all the folks that are working in the offices in transportation, whether it be routing specialists or dispatchers or mechanics, they’re all driving a bus, so these are long days for these folks,” he said.

“What ends up ultimately happening is my men in the garage, here, end up filling in that void, and if they’re filling in the void out there, they’re not doing what they absolutely need to do here,” Saratoga Bus Fleet Manager Chuck Tanzer said.

Tanzer is putting out a plea to the public.

“I have never seen a shortage this severe,” he said. “We need you folks. We need you.”

Saratoga is offering full benefits, retirement, flexible hours and referral incentives to fill the void. The most important quality they’re looking for?

“You got to love kids,” Patton said.

For many districts looking to hire new drivers, no experience behind the wheel is needed, and all training will be provided.

“We have paid training. Our transportation trainers do an awesome job making people feel comfortable getting them on the road,” Patton said. “Obviously, it is a pretty extensive training.”

The district is searching for drivers to work all hours — morning, afternoon and after school runs. If you’re interested, you can apply online at Saratoga Springs City School District’s transportation department website.