Vandalism-plagued Portland Public Schools minibuses will soon be protected by electric fences, assuming the school board approves the proposal at a meeting next week.

Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero has already approved the $205,000 contract to lease the “intense but non-lethal 7,000 volt” fences built by Amarok, which will be installed around the two bus yards in the North Portland district.

The lots house the minibuses used to transport students with special needs. The largest buses in the district are operated by private contractors who already installed the same fencing along their lots long ago.

The contract follows protests by district bus drivers at a board meeting last year, covered by WW in November. Vandals were cutting down the flimsy fences around the lots to vandalize buses and steal gasoline. The drivers showed up in union T-shirts and waved “Stop Looting” signs, telling the board that the lack of security in the lots was jeopardizing their safety.

Since then, the district has implemented additional security measures, says one of those drivers, Bob Foster. WW. A new security company is patrolling more aggressively at night, and some drivers from the district have been assigned to guard the lots during the day.

The theft of catalytic converters has decreased, says Foster. (WW covered the crackdown late last year by a multi-state theft ring that transported thousands of catalytic converters from the Portland area to recyclers in Jersey). the day while they are on the roads, they are also being hit.

Foster plans to testify before the board at its January 24 meeting, when it will vote on the contract. He says he will update them on the latest security issues, “and to encourage them to vote yes.”