Hailed for his project administration and his commitment to his bus drivers, Bobby Gaffney, transportation director at Woodford County Schools in Kentucky, was named SCHOOL BUS FLEET's Administrator of the Year for 1998. The award was presented to Gaffney by SBF Publisher Frank Di Giacomo at the National Association for Pupil Transportation's 24th Annual Conference and Trade Show in Austin, Texas. Gaffney has been involved in pupil transportation for eight years, taking over as director at Woodford County in 1990. Since then, he's transformed the department into one of Kentucky's exemplary operations. "Bobby took a system that was OK and turned it into a real top-notch organization," says Mike Roscoe, Kentucky's state director of pupil transportation and a former SBF Administrator of the Year. "He's really had a major impact." "The first thing I did when I came in was put radios in all the buses," Gaffney says. To keep the momentum going, he's since completed a host of other projects. "We have rebuilt this place just about from the ground up," he says. Among other things, Gaffney has restructured the school bus garage (building two new maintenance bays), constructed a new drivers' lounge and training room and implemented computerized fueling and routing systems. "One of the most upbeat things that I've done here is build the lounge for the drivers," Gaffney says. "It has room for 90 people and has a kitchen hooked up to it. We have a lot of meals together. It works real well. To narrow it down, we're just one big, happy family." One of Gaffney's strongest attributes is his loyalty to his bus drivers. That may explain why he has extra drivers in a county with near-zero unemployment. To keep his drivers' morale high, he holds monthly luncheons for them and recognizes the superior performers every month.
Came from the classroom
Gaffney, a descendant of the Hatfield clan, started working at the school district as an agriculture teacher. It was a position that suited him well, especially since he owns a 70-acre tobacco farm. He taught for 14 years, occasionally substituting as a school bus driver. "I just got to liking it," he says, "and I got to know most of the people." When the district's transportation director announced his retirement, Gaffney was among 36 people who applied for the position. He got the job, impressing the superintendent with his organizational skills and ability to get things done. Gaffney has served as president of the Kentucky Association for Pupil Transportation (KAPT) and has sat on various state committees and task forces. "He's a busy man," says Roscoe. "But that's what makes him go." Gaffney's also been recognized for his achievements, having been named transportation director of the year by the KAPT and the Kentucky Department of Education.
Still not satisfied
Despite the improvements he's made during his eight-year tenure, Gaffney says he has a long list of goals and objectives. Whether it's continuing to renovate the transportation center or imprinting history lessons on the back of seat covers, Gaffney is not satisfied with the status quo. "Progression is the key," he says. "If I do retire in the next few years, I'd like to leave this place where it would be in really good shape for another person to step in and take over," Gaffney says.