Last summer, Connors concluded a two-year term as president of the Florida Association for Pupil Transportation (FAPT). One prominent issue during his tenure was advertising on school buses.
While the state Legislature was considering a bill to allow ads on the exterior of school buses, FAPT issued a position paper and contacted legislators to voice their opposition to bus ads.
“Everything we do in our business around school buses is based on the safety of students. Whenever we change something on a school bus, we say that it makes it safer,” Connors told SBF in early 2011. “And in our minds, even though there’s not absolute black-and-white numbers to support it, we truly believe this [exterior advertising] makes the bus less safe.”
The bill died on the floor, but the association is staying vigilant in case it is introduced again in 2012.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for FAPT in recent years has been that, due to district budget cuts, many members have had travel restrictions, so the association had to restructure its training programs and other events.
One summer, FAPT canceled its annual conference. The next summer, Connors came up with the idea to recast it as a two-day symposium, which he says was highly successful.
In addition to his term as FAPT president, Connors has served on numerous state and national committees, and he has been a delegate to the National Congress on School Transportation, which meets every five years in Warrensburg, Mo., to develop school transportation specifications and best practices.
Connors is also one of two NAPT certified directors of pupil transportation in Florida.
His passion for pupil transportation is particularly clear when he speaks to his drivers, whether it’s a new class or an in-service group.
“I tell them to remember they are professionals. I never want to hear anyone say, ‘I’m just a bus driver,’” Connors says. “Education begins with transportation, and they are very much a part of it. It gives me great satisfaction that we really are having an impact not only on our students’ education, but also in their social development.”