Spring ISD earns recertification for integrated pest management practices

By: Paul Schattenberg, Texas A&M AgriLife

Spring Independent School District has once again earned IPM Star certification for its sustainable pest management practices.

The school district was given an intense inspection of its sustainable pest control practices by experienced integrated pest management professionals, said Janet Hurley, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service school integrated pest management specialist who served as one of the evaluators.

“The IPM STAR program of the IPM Institute of North America evaluates school systems and childcare centers for their adherence to sustainable and environmentally responsible pest management practices,” Hurley said.

Dr. Thomas Green of Madison, Wisconsin, an entomologist who directs the institute, served as the other evaluator.

“We did a careful on-site evaluation of Spring ISD’s integrated pest management program using a quantitative, practical evaluation specific to the organization for measuring performance,” Hurley said. “We found that they met or exceeded the high standards for sustainable IPM practices.”

Hurley said proper integrated pest management reduces liability and risks from both pests and pesticides and that IPM Star certification is a voluntary action that shows an organization’s pest management practices are highly competent and efficient.

“Among other things, to achieve this certification Spring ISD had to establish a formal schedule for IPM evaluation, planning and training as well as develop an ongoing focus on pest and pesticide risk reduction to ensure they met these high standards,” she said.

Hurley said integrated pest management focuses on non-chemical methods of control such as sealing, sanitation and monitoring.

“Pesticides are categorized by the state as red, yellow and green products, with green being the lowest-risk category,” she explained. “Prior to implementing the IPM program, Spring ISD employed a combination of these three groups of products, but used less than 50 percent green products. However, since the 2011-2012 school year, they have been using 100 percent green products.”

“Spring is a great example of how trained individuals, focusing on eliminating pests’ access to food and shelter, can achieve excellent pest control,” added Green. “Everyone at Spring understands their roles in keeping pests out – from the custodians to the maintenance and food service professionals who all work hard to eliminate pest-friendly conditions with proper cleaning and maintenance.”

Dr. Frederick Walker, director of operations for Spring ISD, said achieving recertification was a team effort.

“We get great support from our staff and administrators,” Walker said. “We let them know what we’re doing and that we’re following a process and monitoring and recording the results on a regular basis. We also meet with parent groups to explain our process and the use of green chemicals for pest management, especially if they will be using them in the concession areas.

“And although we could use more people to help, the two applicators we have currently are doing an excellent job of covering every one of the schools in the district. But I guess what we’re most proud of is that, in the several years we’ve been implementing these IPM practices, we have not disrupted the educational experience of a single child in the district.”

Hurley will attend a Spring ISD school board meeting to make a presentation acknowledging the district’s recertification.

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