COCOA, Fla. — After serving as director of transportation at Brevard Public Schools for more than a decade, and working in the pupil transportation industry for nearly two decades, Mike Connors has retired.
Connors served in the U.S. Air Force for 25 years before he joined the transportation department at Escambia County School District in Pensacola, Fla. He served as a transportation director there for seven years before coming to Brevard Public Schools in 2000.
One of Connors’ top accomplishments at Brevard was a change in bell times that saved the district $1.2 million. By adding 15 minutes in between elementary and secondary bell times, the transportation department was able to cut costs by reducing its number of bus routes from 428 to 404.
Arby Creach, assistant director of transportation at Brevard, told SBF that Connors brought a “disciplined business approach to the daily grind of operations, which had the net effect of increasing efficiencies in the division and reducing or totally eliminating costly operational redundancies.”
Creach described Connors’ leadership style as “hands-off” and said that he believed in matching individuals’ leadership skills to top-line supervisor positions. By setting high standards, Creach explained, Connors enabled the supervisors to autonomously do their best work.
“His leadership methodologies earned him the respect of his staff and produced a smooth running and finely tuned organization,” Creach added. “He will be missed, and we wish him well as he opens a new chapter in his life.”
For efforts such as these, as well as his numerous contributions to the industry, SBF named Connors its 38th Administrator of the Year in 2011. In addition, in 2005, Brevard Public Schools was named one of SBF’s Great Fleets Across America, and in 2002, it was named one of SBF’s Top 10 Maintenance programs.
For his part, Connors told SBF that he is grateful for the recognition he and his staff have received from the publication.
“I continue to say that the Administrator of the Year award has my name on it, yet it was a total team effort by an outstanding Brevard School District transportation staff,” Connors said.
He also noted that he will always remember his participation with the Florida delegation attending the National Congress on School Transportation in 2005 and 2010, and that being a part of the national effort to improve the school bus industry is a part of his career he will “always cherish.”
Connors was also elected and served as president of the Florida Association for Pupil Transportation for two years. He said this was a great honor and privilege, and that knowing he had the confidence and respect of the state organization’s membership “meant so much to me.”
Connors left the industry with some advice for his fellow pupil transportation directors: “I would say never forget the value of those that work for you,” he said. “It is equally important, what they do for your operation and what you do for them. Keep this in mind every working day.”
Creach told SBF that Brevard Public Schools faces a challenge this school year in the wake of Connors’ retirement. He said that new leadership brings with it a different organizational vision or strategy, which can initially raise a sense of professional concern on the part of the staff and customers.
“Without thoughtful, focused implementation of the new ideals, the success and momentum gained by the organization by virtue of stable, longtime leadership can quickly erode,” Creach added. “This year will be a time of reassurance and commitment to attentively implement the new leader’s goals and vision, while maintaining the highest standards of safety and service to our students and parents.”
At this time, no one has been chosen to fill Connors’ position, according to Creach. The job has been advertised nationwide, but interviews have not been conducted.
Creach said he has applied for the position, and with 20 years of experience in top-level leadership positions at three different school districts, he feels he is a competitive candidate.