Q&A with Greg Jackson, JeffCo Public Schools Executive Director of Transportation & Fleet Services
Written by Aylin Cook
JeffCo Public Schools Executive Director of Transportation & Fleet Services Greg Jackson manages transportation for a large school district — with over 81,000 students — in the Denver metro area in Colorado. We spoke with him about his journey to his current position, why he’s committed to his role, and the current challenges in his operations.
How did you become the Executive Director of Transportation & Fleet Services?
I took an interesting road to get here. I have a background in the private sector, working for a transportation logistics company. I started doing contracts and legal, but I soon realized that I didn’t like that work as much as I liked working in logistics.
When the company was purchased, they gave me the option to move to various rural areas. As a city boy, the culture shock was immense.
I came back to Denver and became an Assistant Fleet Manager. In the meantime, I started looking at school districts because I knew they were always looking for transportation staff.
I was asked to be a Supervisor at Denver Public School and four years later a Terminal Manager in the Boulder Valley School District. I’ve now been at JeffCo for 10½ years, and I moved up to the Executive Director of Transportation & Fleet Services role over six years ago.
Why have you stayed in your position this long?
There are many reasons why I’ve been committed to this role. First, the employees and students he serves everyday. Another reason is my boss. We trust each other, and we have a great team of executives that work together well. I believe in the idea of servant leadership, and I have an opportunity to do that with this career. We get to invest in the community.
What do you like about your current position?
I love the people I work with.
I schedule coffee talk with drivers once a month — I sit down with bus drivers and get to know them.
I get a chance to build trust and be a leader. I love the Vince Lombardi quote: ‘If people trust you, they will go through a brick wall for you.” Like Lombardi, I try to lead by example and earn the trust of the people I work with. It’s incredibly rewarding.
I also get to ensure that transportation is not just an afterthought, but a critical part of the educational experience.
What are your current challenges?
As for many people in my position, the bus driver shortage is a huge challenge. With 100% attendance this year, the number of riders increased significantly, and not having enough drivers has continued to be an issue.
We’re trying to solve that by thinking outside the bus and working with a recruitment group who specialize in commercial drivers. They were dedicated to setting the bar high. In the first two months of working with them, we’ve seen the largest bus driver classes in the last six years; over 20 going into the next class!
Retention is also critical to the bus driver shortage. How do you retain drivers so they don’t go to the private sector once they get their CDL license? We’re also continuing to solving for that.
There’s also a need to communicate with the community so they know what is going on. This isn’t something we’re doing to inconvenience people; we just don’t have the bus drivers.