School District Survey Reveals Successes and Opportunities

A national school IPM working group was formed in 2006 to coordinate and accelerate school IPM adoption in US public schools. Since then, over $4.4 million has been leveraged from the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture, USDA IPM Centers, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state lead agencies and others to support school IPM. School IPM demonstrations and regional school district coalitions have impacted over 4.5 million students and 400,000 staff since 2006. The national working group, composed of four regional working groups and coordinated by a steering committee, has grown to more than 240 members.

The working group distributed a state-level survey in 2012 and is now wrapping up a survey of US public school districts to measure progress towards the goal of implementing IPM in all US public schools by 2015. The survey, produced with support from a 2010 US EPA Pesticide Registration Improvement Renewal Act (PRIA) grant, has been distributed to public school districts in 41 states in partnership with leaders in each state. Eight states conducted independent surveys, which will be integrated into the results from the district survey. Topics covered in the survey include IPM policies and plans, IPM coordinators, IPM tools or resources in use, pest management strategies, funds spent on pest management and tracking of pest complaints, pesticide applications and pest management costs.

The response goal for the survey is 40% of districts in each state. As of early June, 22 states had reached that goal. Eight other states were just shy of the 40% goal. Of a total of 2,479 districts that have responded as of June 1, 50% reported that they had written IPM policies and 46% had written IPM plans. Additionally, 52% had an IPM coordinator, most with more than two years of experience. More than 83% of districts reported that only licensed pesticide applicators applied any product in school buildings. The findings likely suffer from bias, i.e., districts with an IPM coordinator are more likely to be in a position to respond to the survey.

The survey identified opportunities for improvement. More than half of districts reported applying pesticides on a regular or routine basis in and around school buildings. Although more than 42% of responding districts report using pest or IPM factsheets, only 17% use IPM training tools for staff and 14% read IPM newsletters.

Results from the survey are being used to update the action plan in School IPM 2015, the pest management strategic plan for US public schools. More information on the School IPM 2015 initiative can be found here.

 From the School IPM 2015 newsletter

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