School is starting for students across Utah. In Davis County, classes begin Monday, but the school district could be facing a crisis before the bell ever rings. Twenty-seven bus routes are currently being filled by substitute drivers.
Permanent bus drivers say it is simple: the district is understaffed. They worry that speaking out may put their jobs in jeopardy, so they spoke with ABC 4 anonymously.
"There's a crisis right now. We need the help, we need the people..." explained one driver, who knows what it is like to ‘double-up’ on bus routes.
"It doesn't work… Another driver will have to come in and do as much of his run as they possibly can, so they'll have twice as many students on their bus..." she said.
Now, these concerned employees say they worry they will have to double-up again this Monday.
Davis School District Authorities say not to worry.
"As far as I understand, we have all the routes covered, and we do have people who can get behind the wheel, who have their licenses, just in case there isn't enough out there that first day," said Chris Williams, spokesman for Davis School District.
But the anonymous drivers say this shortage is all part of a bigger issue—The Affordable Care Act. Under Obamacare, employers are required to offer benefits to anyone who works at least 30 hours. Most Davis County drivers work 29.5 hours.
"We can't meet those costs…" explained Williams. Obamacare has definitely affected our school district. There are people all over—whether it be secretaries, whether it be bus drivers—who can only work that 29 and ½ hour a week threshold," he said.
Authorities say that is the very reason the district has such a quick turnover rate. For now, 10 drivers remain in training. They should be ready to hit the road by the second or third day of school.
As for Monday, officials have their back-up drivers ready to go.
"We're set. We're kind of treading water, but we're set," laughed Williams.
For more information on (a) the district’s hiring process, and/or (b) job openings with Davis School District, call 801-402-7500.