Superintendent gets bus license, helps during driver shortage

Published: May. 4, 2023 at 7:43 AM CDT|Updated: May. 4, 2023 at 8:03 AM CDT
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SOLON, Iowa (KCRG/Gray News) - School superintendents can wear a lot of hats in order to help out. One superintendent in Iowa has gone the extra mile to help his district.

While many school districts across eastern Iowa are seeing some bus driver shortages, Davis Eidahl, the superintendent of Solon Community School District, decided to open some doors to help fill the gap.

After experiencing that driver shortage firsthand, Eidahl got a grant that lets the district train new bus drivers and decided he wanted to sit in the driver’s seat too.

“Between just the shortage of drivers and maybe needing a spare in an emergency every now and then, and being able to learn more of what the training consists of, I actually participated in that training,” Eidahl said.

He then got his bus license, allowing him to help out with driving students to and from school.

Eidahl said with all of the extracurricular activities students participate in, there are days they send out seven buses and multiple vans on the same night.

“And trying to put together the number of route drivers - we need to drop people off after school and then activity drivers to go to all these events - we run short sometimes,” he said.

Drivers with the district said while they were surprised to see him behind the wheel, they appreciate their superintendent helping wherever possible.

“I think it’s a great way for him to lead by example. Obviously, we’re short on drivers, so every driver is crucial at this point,” said Dave Johnson, the district’s director of transportation.

Eidahl said there was a bit of a learning curve.

“I was nervous. I won’t lie about that. There’s a lot of controls. And a lot of things you’re required to think about and do all at the same time,” Eidahl said.

But, it has become a fun challenge for Eidahl.

“You actually start to crave it a little bit,” he said.

He especially appreciated being able to step out of the classroom and see the kids in a whole new light.

“I do like the different roles. I had worked in a large district, and I came to Solon to be in a smaller district, where I could just be more of an educator and more involved,” Eidhal said. “And I never dreamed that it would expand to bus driving, but I really enjoy the various roles within the school district.”

The time Eidhal took to learn a new skill has not only helped fill a need but also has better connected with the district he serves.