Arby Creach is in the middle of a six-year-long journey with the Florida Association for Pupil Transportation (FAPT).
Creach describes this six-year job in stages – first, he was the president-elect for two years, then, as of July 2017, he will be the president for another two years and, finally, he will end his term as the past president for two years.
The president-elect is also like a vice president; the job description involves planning the annual conferences and mid-year directors’ meetings, as well as facilitating any other major association meetings or specific tasks that may be required. Afterwards, the president-elect gig is followed by an automatic association presidency for another two years, which consists of facilitating the official conferences and meeting presentations, as well as overseeing the efforts of service committee proceedings, charity work and overall guiding the direction and focus of the organization.
Once the two years of presidency are complete, the outgoing president becomes a past president – but that doesn’t mean the work stops there.
“The past president is responsible for nominating historical state transportation figures for recognition – people that were trailblazers in our industry. The past president helps to find select candidates to fill very important association positions, such as the executive director or the next president-elect or regional directors, those kinds of things,” Creach says.
However, before Creach entered the world of pupil transportation, he lived a completely different life. For 13 years, Creach was in the military and didn’t have a clue about the world of yellow buses.
“I used to be in the Air Force. I flew B-52 bombers,” he says, adding that after the Cold War ended and once the Air Force reorganized itself, they decided that B-52s were suddenly not as important as a nuclear deterrent factor and, like so many members of the Air Force, they didn’t need Creach’s highly specialized services anymore. “We call it a ‘reduction in force’. It was involuntary – I loved my job, but unfortunately that happens. I was forced to look for a new job.”
After leaving the military, Creach worked as a pharmaceutical rep for a couple of years until a friend of his suggested he apply to be a school bus operations supervisor.
“Didn’t know a thing about school buses, but the interview must have went well, because the rest is history,” Creach says. He began his career in the pupil transportation industry as the supervisior of operations in Polk County Public Schools in 1993 and worked for the district for almost 10 years. After Polk, he worked for Orange County Public Schools as a transportation director for another 10 years.
“Six years ago, I moved on from Orange as the director of transportation of Brevard County Schools,” Creach says. And it’s a title he wears to this day. “Basically, I oversee the daily operations here in Brevard and the safe, efficient transportation of almost 25,000 students every day.”
Brevard County Schools boasts more than 500 school buses, about 400 school bus drivers and 40 to 50 substitute drivers on any given day.
“I manage a $21 million budget, and that keeps me busy,” Creach says.
Once Creach assumes his presidency in July of this year, he plans on bringing a new focus centered on the increase of the FAPT membership and participation.
“Over the years, FAPT has taken a backseat to other organizations. There’s a lot of competition for our time and travel dollars,” Creach explains. “Focusing on our state organization is important – we have to take care of us first.”
Creach would also like to focus on reestablishing the FAPT service committees and the close working relationships with not just the state department of education but also with all 67 school transportation departments within Florida.
“It’s important we share our successes and our failures. If we fail at something, we don’t need another district to unknowingly follow that same path. We need them to understand what went wrong with us, so they don’t repeat the same mistake,” Creach says. “If we have a great success, we’ll also want to share that with them, because, that way, students are always the winners. Our collaborative relationships are what makes Florida great. We do that well already, but I want to make sure we really drive the message home that we are stronger standing together.”