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Getting back to school without enough bus drivers

School districts are desperate for more employees behind the wheel.

EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. — Getting your child to school and home again safely is becoming more of a challenge as we deal with a bus driver shortage here and around the country.

Mahtahnah Macay is training to become a school bus driver, but there's one area of expertise she needs no additional training in — dealing with kids.

"I do. I have eight, so I would hope so."

Macay is taking a free CDL class offered by the East Stroudsburg School District.

"Me having kids that are still in school, I said, you know what, let me try something different."

The district waived the fee for the class to incentivize more applicants. So far, it seems to be working.

"It was the biggest one I've ever seen so far in my six years of being a state-certified trainer," said Lorraine Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh isn't just a trainer for the class. She's also a bus driver for the district herself and has been for 22 years.

The district is still looking to hire 24 bus drivers for this school year. There are 14 runs with no driver assigned.

That means drivers like Cavanaugh have to pick up the slack. She doesn't mind, but East Stroudsburg Superintendent William Riker is worried about burnout for the drivers and frustration for the families.

"That means late pick-ups, late arrivals at home. It's much more difficult of a problem to solve than we've ever had," Riker said.

Pete Harding has been behind the wheel for more than four years in East Stroudsburg. He and Cavanaugh agree it's a rewarding job, and the kids make it all worth it.

"Some of them you actually change their lives, and that's kind of neat," Cavanaugh said. 

"They come up to you and say, 'Hey, you were my bus driver.' And sometimes you don't even recognize them because you saw them when they were in their early days and they've grown up," Cavanaugh added.

If you're interested, the district is still hiring, even if you can only work part-time or limited hours.

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