MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Like many districts across the nation, Adams 12 Five Star Schools in Thornton, Colo., has been grappling with funding shortfalls in recent years, but David Anderson has found ways to mitigate the impact on transportation.
Most notably, the director of transportation and fleet orchestrated adjustments to school bell times to make busing more efficient.
“I got with the superintendent and told him that we could save close to a million dollars if we did a three-tier system,” Anderson told SBF.
Indeed, the result of the overhaul was a savings of $900,000.
Anderson has made considerable efforts to improve efficiency at his district and to help other districts do the same. For example, he serves as chair of the Metro Area Transportation Efficiency Study (MATES), a program that uses metrics to allow districts to compare themselves to others of a similar size and to find efficiencies.
Anderson brought the MATES concept to NAPT, for which he is a board member. Then, last year, the association began work on its own metrics project, with the goal of helping members to provide the best service possible — and to be able to prove it with quantitative and qualitative measurements.
For his contributions at the local, state and national levels, SCHOOL BUS FLEET named Anderson its 2012 Administrator of the Year. He became the 39th school transportation leader to win the award, which SBF Executive Editor Thomas McMahon presented to him at the NAPT awards banquet on Sunday night.
Anderson started his career in the pupil transportation field in 1981 as a mechanic at Cherry Creek School District in Englewood, Colo. He rose in the ranks from mechanic to shop foreman to fleet manager.
In 2005, Anderson made the leap to director of transportation at another district, Adams 12 Five Star Schools.
Colleagues say that one of Anderson’s defining characteristics is his desire for his employees to further their training and education.
Rodney Mitchell, operations manager of transportation at Adams 12, said that Anderson constantly offers staff members opportunities to attend professional development events.
Providing top-notch in-house training for school bus drivers, mechanics and other staff members is also a top priority for Anderson. In some cases, other districts from the area are invited to educational events at Adams 12.
“It is not uncommon for [Anderson] to bring in national speakers to share their expertise on timely subjects to give his employees, and other transportation professionals, additional tools to become experts in their field,” Mitchell said.
Anderson’s leadership was particularly vital as Adams 12 developed and built a new, $20-million transportation facility, which the operation moved into in June 2010.
“Dave’s expertise and experience in pupil transportation and fleet services were invaluable as we worked through all the logistics of completing such a complex project,” said Robert Webber, chief operating officer for Adams 12.
The state-of-the-art building has a variety of features to reduce energy use, such as extra insulation, numerous skylights and heated shop floors.
“Everything is efficient and energy-conscious,” Anderson said. “We worked five years to get it designed and built. At times, I wondered whether we would get it done, but it turned out spectacular.”
Anderson has long been a proponent of adopting alternative fuels and retrofitting older diesel buses to reduce emissions. Adams 12 currently runs some hybrid and propane buses, which the district has acquired with the help of grants from government agencies.
Anderson’s dedication extends to numerous industry groups. In addition to his current tenure as Region 5 director for NAPT, he has served as a Colorado delegate to the National Congress on School Transportation, a co-chair of the America’s Best School Bus Technician and Inspector program, and a board member for the Colorado State Pupil Transportation Association, among other roles.
“You end up using a lot of personal time,” Anderson said of the industry commitments. “But there’s personal satisfaction in serving the transportation community. I try to be out there helping others and leading by example.”