For the more than 1,610 Shawnee students who ride school buses for the upcoming school year that starts Aug. 16, their bus routes are going high-tech, allowing the bus location and bus driver speeds to be monitored, all while giving students and parents an app to check on the bus route in real-time.

For the more than 1,610 Shawnee students who ride school buses for the upcoming school year that starts Aug. 16, their bus routes are going high-tech, allowing the bus location and bus driver speeds to be monitored, all while giving students and parents an app to check on the bus route in real-time.

Shawnee Public Schools has 15-16 buses that will be equipped with the new technology that should be fully in place in the next month or two, with the live GPS feature operational within the next 30 days.

At Monday's Shawnee School Board meeting Monday, Shawnee Transportation Director John Wiles spoke to the board about the program, which is geared for the safety of the children being transported.

“All buses will have live GPS,” Wiles said, that will be monitored in real time. “We can see where every bus is located, how fast it's going and whether they are on route or off route.”

Wiles said the system should give parents a sense of peace fully knowing where their child's bus is and when it arrived at school.

As part of the system, there will be an app in place where parents can check on their specific child's bus.

“They can see an estimated time frame of when the bus will arrive at the bus stop,” he said, adding that parents can get on screen notifications allowing them to know or track where their child's bus is and if that bus has made it to school.

It's going to take about a month to get the system up and running, but the new technology is just one of the ways the district is working to make students safer.

The equipment works with existing software.

“It's all about school safety and where the students are... we're excited about it,” said Superintendent Dr. April Grace.

Wiles said the accountability of knowing how fast a bus is traveling and where it is also makes bus drivers better drivers.

In addition to cutting down calls from parents wondering where buses are, the live GPS will allow and give notice for any issues with traffic, maintenance and also can help prevent students from being out too long in bad weather or cold.

Additionally, the system will check engine data and send back reports, he said, which will enable them to monitor any engine or maintenance issues.

This is just the first step in the district's plan to go high-tech with bus routes. In the next year or two, they hope to have a system that will scan each individual student as they get on and off the bus, whether that be a through a student ID card or through an iPad system the bus driver uses.

Prior to this live GPS tracking system, buses were equipped with a passive GPS system that stored information in case it was needed at a later date. All buses also are already equipped with video cameras.

As the school year begins in Shawnee Aug. 16, Wiles also wants to remind drivers it is a law for traffic to stop for the red flashing lights of a school bus.

“We have so many close calls... there's nothing worse than seeing a car that's not going to stop...we're praying more than anything,” he said.

Police also remind drivers that those who violate school bus yield laws are subject to hefty fines and even suspension of their driver license.

With school starting, officials also remind motorists to watch for area school zones and follow posted limits.

In other business at Monday's school board meeting, Dr. April Grace reported on the Pottawatomie County Celebrate Teachers event sponsored by the Avedis Foundation on Aug. 6. Shawnee Public Schools hosted middle school teachers from the county at

Shawnee Middle School and had 18 professional development breakout sessions for these teachers. The county’s school librarians also attended a session at SMS on the newly adopted school library standards. Jim Thorpe Academy hosted area alternative education teachers.

The event continued in the afternoon at FireLake Arena as Kim Bearden from Ron Clark Academy spoke. More than 220 Shawnee staff members attended this event.