Klein ISD wins 2008 IPM Pride Award
IPM Pride first place winner
The 2008 “IPM Pride Awards” for the best integrated pest management programs in Texas’ public schools have been announced. First place went to Klein Independent School District, followed by honorable mention for Arlington ISD and Plano ISD. The awards are presented by the Southwest Technical Resource Center, which is located at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas.
Janet Hurley, Extension Program Specialist -School IPM, said the center’s mission is helping schools eliminate wildlife and unwanted pests with fewer and safer pesticides. Texas enacted a school integrated pest management law, commonly known as IPM, in 1990. All of the state’s public school districts were required to implement an integrated pest management program by Sept. 1, 1995.
In 2001, a seed grant from the Environmental Protection Agency funded the center’s opening. Today the center provides technical assistance and resources to school districts and childcare facilities in Texas and within the surrounding. Texas has 4.6 million students in 1,031 school districts, the second largest public school population in the nation. Pests in schools are not generally a big issue until a situation gets out of hand, Hurley said. The center helps schools create preventive pest management programs.
Because integrated pest management is mandated by the state, schools must comply, but it is not always easy to succeed, Hurley said. “We prefer to dangle a carrot rather than wield a stick,” she said. “This year’s winner has been doing IPM for years, this was the first year that they decided to apply for the award. They will serve as a model district for those wanting to upgrade their IPM program in the north Houston area.”
Klein won for three reasons, Hurley said: administrative support, program leaders, and ability to grow their program with personnel changes. When the Center first opened, August Wunderlich, was the IPM coordinator, he is now the Director of Maintenance. However, as the Director he is able to assist those under him and oversee the IPM program. Kevin Wieghat and Tim Myers are now in charge of the program and ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible.
Klein has been instrumental in finding solutions to their pest problems by using a variety of non-chemical control techniques when and where appropriate. For example, one their elementary school campuses was bird problem. Under the Federal Migratory Bird Act, the majority of bird species are protected, so instead of trying to kill the birds or repel them, they installed brushes above the large roll-up doors to prevent entry for the birds. This eliminated the birds from entering into the gym when the custodians have the large doors open for cleaning or removing items.
Klein has tied their IPM program in with their environmental programs as well. Tim Myers is the Supervisor for Environmental Quality and the Responsible IPM coordinator for the district. Mr. Myers as part of his responsibilities conducts full facility inspections as part of the department’s standard operating procedure. Depending on what Myers finds will depend on how it is addressed. For instance if he finds a broken door sweep that will prompt a workorder to the maintenance department; on the other hand, if he notices a dirty classroom, then a conversation between the teacher, principal and custodian will occur.
“The health of our teachers, staff, and students is important to us, so we take our IPM/IAQ program very seriously,” stated Myers.
Arlington ISD took “second place” however; the committee felt that they had room for improvement, stated Hurley. Dixie Mathews, IPM Coordinator for Arlington has been working diligently for the past four years to get Arlington to this stage of their program. “Arlington is a large disitrct, with a variety of people there, we have had to use a pest control contractor and they don’t always agree with our IPM program, but we are making progress,” stated Mathews. “We have had several campuses with rodent problems, we have been working with AgriLife Extension to help us locate the problems and exclude the rodents form them, this takes time.”
“Dixie has been working hard to improve Arlington’s program, last year the district made her the Responsible Coordinator and made this her sole responsibility, I truly believe this will make their program even better within the next year or so,” according to Hurley.
Finally, Plano ISD has been diligent in their IPM program adoption. This is one of the larger districts in the state with several older buildings and new ones coming online every year or so. David Lewis, IPM Coordinator has been a licensed applicator for the district for over ten years and was named IPM Coordinator in 2006. Lewis’s biggest problem is getting teachers and staff to understand that IPM is more than pest control, that it’s about supporting the health and safety of the building.
Awards will be given out to the schools this summer at School Board meetings of their choosing.