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Pest Management Practices: 
A Survey of Public School Districts in New York State 

New York State IPM Program Jun02

[Full PDF of report at source: http://www.nysipm.cornell.edu/comm/school.pdf ]

CONTENTS Introduction Methods Results Results, by Question Conclusion Next Steps Appendix A: Survey Questions Appendix B: Survey Cover Letter

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
James F. Leach, NYS Department of Health, and Carl Thurnau, NYS Education Department, helped develop and administer the survey. Our appreciation also to Charles Szuberia of the NYS Education Department. A grant from the NYS Community IPM Program funded the telephone enumeration by the New York Agricultural Statistics Service of the USDA. Lenore J. Gensburg and Vinay G. Mehta of the NYS Department of Health coded the data and did the initial analysis. Cheryl Ten-Eyck, Michele Kaufman, and Carrie Koplinka- Loehr of the NYS IPM Program and Donna Boyce (New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Communication Services) helped prepare this report. Our gratitude to all those who completed surveys and made this report possible. Produced by the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, which develops sustainable ways to manage pests and helps people use methods that minimize environmental, health, and economic risks. For additional copies: NYS IPM Program, NYSAES, Geneva, NY 14456; 800.635.8356. To obtain this document from the web: http://www.nysipm.cornell.edu/comm/school.pdf  1M NYSAES 6/02


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

In 2001, all public school districts and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) districts in New York State (NYS) were surveyed concerning their current pest management practices. The goals of the survey were to evaluate the status of integrated pest management (IPM) programs in NYS public elementary and secondary schools and provide guidance for research and outreach activities to assist schools in improving pest management. The recent implementation of the NYS Pesticide Neighbor Notification Law provided additional incentive for good baseline information.

Approximately 80% (603) of the state’s public school districts and BOCES districts responded to the survey. Almost half indicated that they had a written pest management policy. The majority did not have a pest management advisory committee. Most districts require inspections, monitoring, sanitation, and record keeping in their pest management programs. Fewer require education and pest exclusion. Most districts do not have a policy concerning food outside of cafeterias. Forty-five percent of the school districts notify persons in parental relation and staff in advance of pesticide applications. Twenty-one percent of the districts notify after pesticide applications. (Notification was not mandated until this survey was completed.)

Half of the school districts employ staff who are certified pesticide applicators. Most districts do not have regularly scheduled pesticide applications. Of those that do, 30% have regularly scheduled applications in instructional buildings, 10% in non-instructional buildings, and 20% on school grounds.

The most frequent and troublesome pests in NYS schools are ants, stinging insects, mice, and weeds. Regional differences do occur. Long Island has more problems with lawn grubs, cockroaches, termites, and birds (especially geese) than much of the rest of the state. The Hudson Valley/Catskills region has more frequent problems with geese and termites than the rest of upstate New York.

The most commonly used structural pest management techniques were sanitation, vacuuming, monitoring/ inspections, structural modifications, baits, routine pesticide applications, and mechanical traps. On school grounds, the most common techniques were raising mower height, aeration, overseeding, and organic fertilizers.

Fifty-four percent of NYS school districts received complaints about pests within the past three years. Six percent had received complaints about pesticide applications during the same period.

The median total expenditures by school districts on pest control activities during the 1999–2000 school year was $1,350. The mean was $4,330. Extrapolated, approximately $3 million was spent statewide to control pests in schools.

INTRODUCTION

Ascertaining the status of pest management practices in NYS schools is important for assessing needs and evaluating changes. Some NYS school districts have successfully adopted IPM. However, other districts have had problems in adopting pesticide-reduction programs or still depend upon “conventional” pesticide treatments. A comprehensive picture of the status of pest management in NYS schools has been lacking. Such information is important for gauging pest management needs and as a baseline for measuring changes. With the 2001 implementation of the schools portion of the NYS Pesticide Neighbor Notification Law (Section 409-h of the Education Law), good baseline information has become even more important. Although signed into law in August, 2000, Section 409-h was not effective until July 2001, which was after our survey was conducted.

A written survey of the current pest management practices of public school districts and BOCES districts was jointly developed by the NYS Education Department, the NYS Department of Health, and the NYS Community IPM Program (Appendix A). The goal of the survey was to evaluate the status of IPM implementation in NYS public elementary and secondary schools, as well as to help focus outreach and research activities to better assist schools in managing pests while reducing the need for pesticides. Specific objectives were to assess the percentage of public school districts that

METHODS

In January 2001, the NYS Education Department mailed the survey to all 703 public school districts and all 38 BOCES districts in the state. The survey was addressed to the district superintendent. The cover letter (Appendix B) asked that the person most responsible for pest management decisions in the school district complete the survey. The cover letter also indicated that the survey was voluntary and confidential. Survey forms had identification numbers in order to facilitate the follow-up of nonresponding districts. In March 2001, the Education Department re-sent the survey to districts that had not responded to the first mailing.

During May and June, the New York Agricultural Statistics Service of the USDA contacted by phone all districts which, according to our records, had not responded to either mailing. All such school and BOCES districts were called up to four (sometimes more) times over more than a month and at different times of the day. Personnel in districts who agreed to fill out the survey either did so over the phone or had the survey faxed to them.

Data from all completed surveys were coded by the State Department of Health and analyzed using Statistical Analysis System software (SAS).

RESULTS

We received 603 completed surveys. This number represents 86% of the 741 districts (703 school districts and 38 BOCES districts) surveyed. However, we did receive some duplicate surveys (districts that filled out more than one survey). We know this because, in four counties, we received more completed surveys than districts in the county. We were unable to separate out the duplicates. Also, there may be duplicates that we are unaware of in other counties. We do believe that the number of duplicates is probably less than 20, and thus should not affect the general trends in the data.

Most responding school districts described themselves as either rural (56%) or suburban (36%) (fig. 1).

For some of the analyses, we grouped the counties into four regions (fig. 2). The number of respondents in each region and county are shown in figures 3 through 6.

The New York City school district apparently did not return a survey (fig. 4). This is the largest school district in the nation but still counts as only one district in our survey.

Almost half of the responding districts have a written pest management policy. More than 70% of the responding districts require inspections; monitoring; sanitation and housekeeping; and record keeping in their pest management programs (fig. 7). Fewer require education and pest exclusion. Most responding districts indicated that their pest management policies had been explained to parents, students, and staff. Most districts do not have a policy related to food outside of cafeterias. Most respondents do not have a pest management advisory committee.

About 70% of the respondents have designated a specific individual as the district pest management contact. Less than 30% train and encourage building occupants to participate in the school’s pest management program.

Around 30% of the responding districts conduct regularly scheduled pesticide applications in instructional buildings.

Ten percent have similar applications in noninstructional buildings. Twenty percent conduct regularly scheduled pesticide applications on school grounds. Most pesticide applications at schools are made either after hours or on weekends/holidays (figures 8 and 9).

Decisions concerning pesticide applications are usually made by the Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds or private pesticide application firms (fig. 10). Most districts keep a variety of records related to pest management, although only 62% kept pest sighting logs (table 1).

The most frequent and troublesome pests cited by NYS schools are ants, stinging insects (bees), mice, and weeds (figures 11 through 20). A third of Long Island school districts reported frequent issues with lawn grubs, cockroaches, and termites, and about 40% had frequent problems with geese (fig. 13). Long Island districts also had more frequent problems with birds than the rest of the state. On the other hand, the Long Island region reported less frequent encounters with lice and flies than upstate New York. The Hudson Valley region had more frequent problems with geese and termites than the rest of upstate New York (fig. 12).

Respondents indicated that they most commonly used the following indoor pest management techniques monthly or more often on a prearranged schedule (table 2): sanitation/ housekeeping (93%), vacuuming (91%), monitoring/ inspections (76%), structural modifications (49%), baits (34%), routine pesticide applications (33%), and mechanical traps (30%). School districts most commonly listed the following techniques as being used infrequently (less than four times a year and not on a prearranged schedule):

aerosols (85%), baseboard spraying (66%), crack/crevice applications (64%), routine pesticide applications (53%), mechanical traps (51%), baits (44%), and structural modifications (31%).

Respondents indicated that they most commonly used the following outdoor pest management techniques monthly or more often on a prearranged schedule (table 3): raising mower height (51%), aeration (40%), overseeding (37%), and organic fertilizers (25%). Respondents most commonly listed the following techniques as being used infrequently (less than four times a year and not on a prearranged schedule): herbicidal soaps (85%), nematodes (84%), routine pesticide applications (73%), spot pesticide treatments (72%), soil testing (54%), organic fertilizers (45%), overseeding (32%), aeration (31%), and raising mower height (23%).

Fifty-four percent of the responding school districts indicated that they had received complaints about pests within the past three years. Six percent said that they had received complaints about pesticide applications within the same period. Four percent indicated that there had been pesticide spills or complaints of adverse health reactions from pesticides during the past three years. Of those districts that had spills or complaints, almost 80% utilized outside resources in responding.

Half of the school districts employ staff who are certified pesticide applicators. All of these staff are over 20 years old. The median annual pest management training per employee is 6.0 hours.

Thirty-two percent of the districts have their own staff apply pesticides, while 85% hire a private business to make applications. Almost 60% of the respondents do not allow apprentices or technicians, under the supervision of a certified applicator, to apply pesticides.

Equal numbers (45% each) of school districts did or did not notify persons in parental relation and staff in advance of pesticide applications during the 2000–2001 school year. The remaining 10% were uncertain. Of those that notified, 62% accomplished this by posting at building entrances. Twenty-one percent of the districts notified persons in parental relation and staff after pesticide applications. Of these, the most frequent means (59%) was posting. It is important to note that the school portion of the NYS Pesticide Neighbor Notification Law was not effective until July 2001 (after the survey was conducted).

The median total expenditures by NYS school districts on pest control activities during the 1999–2000 school year was $1,350. The median expenditures by district type were suburban ($3,500), urban ($2,450), and rural ($750). The median expenditures by region were Long Island ($4,400), Hudson Valley/Catskills ($2,500), Central/Western ($1,100), and North Country/Adirondacks ($669).

source: http://www.nysipm.cornell.edu/comm/school.pdf  19aug02

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