The East Texas Advanced Academies board will explore options for GPS tracking systems on all Longview ISD buses and will investigate the possibility of placing a physician’s assistant on the campus with its youngest students.

When board president Alan Amos asked for a trustee at Wednesday’s board meeting to work with Deputy of Business Operations Donald Stewart to investigate GPS trackers and the cost for the transportation department, Sam Satterwhite volunteered.

“At some point, one of our students will be on that bus,” Amos said. “I think we might see what the cost is on all of those buses.”

Amos said GPS trackers offer several options, and he wants to be able to keep up with students on buses.

“I think it’s a safety issue with every ISD. The parents want to know exactly where their child is at all times,” he said.

A tracking system can enable a parent to pull up an app on their phone and see where their child’s bus is, he said. It also could allow bus drivers to know if a student is on the right bus, because the student could check in.

“We’re dealing with some small kids, and it’s our responsibility to make sure they’re kept safe,” Amos said. “It’s just another reassurance on our side and the parents’ side.”

Longview ISD in August fired Transportation Director Dale Bohannon. The move came as the district worked through transportation issues after parents had to locate two misplaced students — a 4-year-old boy and a 5-year-old boy — from East Texas Montessori Prep Academy.

Amos said he hopes to have more information at the next meeting, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 7.

ETAA is the nonprofit organization running Longview ISD’s six district-within-a-district charter campuses. Those campuses are East Texas Montessori Prep Academy, Ware East Texas Montessori Academy, Johnston-McQueen Elementary School, Bramlette STEAM Academy, J.L. Everhart Elementary School and Forest Park Magnet School.

Amos also called for someone to look into the laws of having a physician’s assistant on the East Texas Montessori Prep Academy campus, which serves prekindergarten and kindergarten students. Jud Murray volunteered.

The campus has about 1,140 students right now, Amos said. While the campus has two nurse’s stations, the board wants to eliminate the time parents have to spend taking their children out of school for doctor visits by contracting with a physician’s assistant.

The board also approved requesting that Longview ISD hire a K-8 special education supervisor and a behavioral specialist and, if the district denies, ETAA hiring the two positions on its own.

“Currently, the ISD has a special ed department,” Amos said. “With our size of six campuses, we want to dial in on those campuses to get just a little more support. If the ISD refuses to hire that position, ETAA is going to hire them, because we need a little more attention than what is being provided currently.”

Amos said the ETAA has the budget to add those positions to the payroll.

Action items approved Wednesday were Longview Incentive for Teachers pay for ETAA network teachers. ETAA campus teachers still are considered Longview ISD employees but are managed by ETAA, so the payment needs board approval, CEO Cynthia Wise previously said.

The board also discussed meetings being held every two weeks between ETAA and Longview ISD administration. Murray expressed concern about the meetings taking away from Wise’s time on campuses and ensuring the goals of the campuses are met.

Murray asked Wise to keep the board informed about her schedule, and the timetable for the meetings might be revisited in the future.

In her CEO report, Wise said Forest Park teachers have been trained on zSpace, the virtual reality technology purchased by ETAA, and it is being used in classrooms.

The board also agreed to join the Texas Association of School Boards.