PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Break-ins at the Portland Public Schools mini school bus facility have gotten worse over the last two years as thousands of dollars of fuel and school bus parts have been stolen.
On Tuesday, the school board voted to replace a fence that guards the busses along Marine Drive.
The current fence is five feet tall, while the new fence would be twice the size and be electrified.
The new fence costs $200,000 over five years. Brandon Coonrod, the district’s assistant director of transportation, said the electricity would be enough to deter burglars without killing them. He said they’ve planned steps to keep employees safe as well.
“The last couple of years has really seen an uptick,” he said. “At the height of it, we were seeing break-ins every other, to every third day.”
Currently, the district is paying $14,000 a month in private security to patrol the bus lot, as well as another lot that’s been targeted. But thieves have been able to cut through other sections of fences.
The district didn’t say how much they have spent on bus repairs over the last couple of years, but the transportation division told KOIN 6 News it’s nearly $30,000, that’s even after PPS bought a $30,000 machine to do catalytic converter replacements themselves.
Bus drivers say they’re grateful that the board voted to approve funding for the electric fence for the bus yard, but say that their personal cars need to be protected too.
“These incidents have occurred in broad daylight — when the yards are wide open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. This unfortunately has created insurance and repair expenses to be absorbed by the affected PPS bus driver,” said Special Education bus driver Bob Foster.
Bus operators said the yes vote Tuesday will get the fence installed within the next 60 days.