The 2012-2013 school year is the last for Bruce Little as the senior transportation consultant for the Colorado State Department of Education (CDE), the 25-year industry veteran announced this month.
Effective immediately, decorated U.S. Air Force veteran Greta Bleau has succeeded Little as the de facto state director of student transportation, overseeing statewide training programs, driver certification and legislation and regulations that affect services provided by school districts.
Little said he will remain with CDE until next September to complete several projects, reviews and the transition. Meanwhile, Bleau has taken over the title of state director, and is representing Colorado along with Little at the NASDPTS annual conference, which begins Friday in Memphis, Tenn.
"My plans for retirement include doing more with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, where I have worked as a volunteer for over 14 years, other fun stuff and (to) continue to enjoy life," he told School Transportation News.
Bleau told STN that she is approaching her new position exactly as she did prior as a school bus driver and a trainer, to positively affect the safety of Colorado's students.
"When I was interviewed for this position, I was asked why I wanted to work at CDE. I remember exactly what I said, because I still feel the same way," she said.
She also thanked Little for all he has done during his career for the benefit of the state's and the nation's students of Colorado.
"I will do my best to continue with his vision. Public awareness of the big yellow school bus is what I would like to focus on as I start this process," she added.
Bleau said she will especially focus on the state's illegal passing survey, which returned "alarming" results because of the high number of incidents recorded by drivers in April. She added that the continued education of motorists must start with the state's own school systems. But that means transportation departments must survive the budgetary chopping block.
"The first place school districts look to cut funding is in school transportation. Increased walk distances and doing away with transportation other than what is mandated are some of the issues we are facing in Colorado," she said. "We are putting so many more children at risk by increasing our walk distances, and putting more students in the family car, rather that the big yellow school bus."
Little started in the school bus industry in October of 1985 as the western regional safety manager for Missouri school bus contractor R.W. Harmon & Sons, Inc., which a year earlier had been acquired by the Mayflower Group and received national attention for moving the NFL’s Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis.
"At that time, the whole safety department was laid off due to an attempted hostile takeover by LaidLaw, which later on became successful," said Little. "So, no, I never worked for a school district. I'm one of those that snuck in through the side door from another field."
The following year, Little joined CDE. In that position, he has regulated and reviewed school district transportation programs for compliance, program improvement and school bus inspections. He also has developed and presented in-service training sessions, assisted in coordinating the annual statewide transportation workshop, and helped school districts improve the safety and security of the students they transport.
Little holds a master’s degree in transportation safety and a bachelor’s degree in traffic safety from Central Missouri State University, which is now named the University of Central Missouri. The campus in Warrensburg, Mo., host of the National Congress on School Transportation held every five years. As a graduate student at the university’s Missouri Safety Center, he served as a project assistant for the DWI and Advanced Driver Techniques Workshop.
Little also receive an associate’s degree in automotive technology from Southern Colorado State College. In addition to being a member of NAPT and an Eagle Scout, Little also served two terms as NASDPTS Western Region director, from 1994 to 1996 and again from 2006 to 2008, and was a Colorado delegate at NCST events.
Bleau joined CDE in 2007 after working for five years as a driver and driver trainer for Littleton Public Schools. From 1994 until 2007 she was a school bus route and special needs driver at Sheridan School District in Denver, following 20 years of service as a chief master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force. She served as vehicle control officer, responsible for ensuring daily vehicle inspections and proper documentation of required forms, and as a maintenance training manager for the Air Force’s T-43 aircraft unit.
Bleau received the National Defense Service Medal with two bronze stars for service in the Vietnam War, and Operations Desert Storm, Desert Shield and Enduring Freedom. She also received the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal and multiple other commendations.
Bleau is also an American Heart Association instructor and completed Colorado State Patrol Child Safety Restraint Systems training. She also holds certifications in defensive driving and crisis prevention intervention techniques and is a member of NASDPTS, NAPT and the Colorado State Pupil Transportation Association.