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Dallas School District pest managment coordinator Kevin Shinn mows grass near the play structure at Lyle Elementary School Monday afternoon as part of an "IPM" plan.
June 26, 2012
DALLAS -- Schools across the state are having to concentrate on preparing students for higher graduation standards and balance budgets in a precarious time for funding.
Now added to that list is creating "integrated pest management plans" (IPMs). The plans are meant to keep students and staff members safe from pests -- insects, rats and mice -- and the products used to eradicate them.
IPMs are designed to use pesticides as a last resort. Instead, the plans focus on eliminating conditions that attract pests -- cluttered rooms, torn window screens or leftover food debris.
In 2009, the state legislature made the plans mandatory. Districts have until July 1 to finalize them.
IPMs require each district to name a pest management coordinator, who will undergo training annually, and staff in each building to inspect for pests. If pests are discovered, the plan outlines specific protocol for handling the situation.
Dallas School District approved its plan Monday night.
Board members asked how much time would be spent on pest management.
"I don't think it will take us much time, because we don't have a lot of pests," Dallas Superintendent Christy Perry said.
She estimated it took her about six to eight hours to adapt a plan appropriate for Dallas from a sample plan provided by Oregon State University.
"The original plan is very, very detailed," Perry said, adding that was unnecessary for Dallas. "We are on top of it (pests). We don't use pesticides very often."
Previous to the IPM, Dallas handled pest situations based on the judgment of building custodians and communication with staff, a system that worked well.
"We are small enough that we never let anything get out of control," Perry said.
She designed the plan to stay as close as possible to what the district was already doing, while still meeting new state regulations.
"I'm trying to make it about communication and keeping classrooms clean," she said. "As long as people communicate, I don't think it will add a lot of time."
Depending on the severity of a situation, the plan may call for eliminating the conditions attracting the pests or, as a last resort, declaring a "pest emergency."
Pest emergencies needing chemicals require 24-hour notice and warnings posted letting people know that a pesticide had been used up to 72 hours after use.
All inspections, monitoring and actions taken to eliminate pests, and products used are to be documented. The original plan from OSU called for annual training for all personnel.
Perry opted to have an initial training and follow-up training if problems persist.
"I don't know that forcing staff into annual training would help," Perry said. "We have so many annual trainings already."