Thank you for the recent article about the Bellevue School District receiving pest control star. I would like to clarify a couple of points.
The certification is “awarded” to institutions that are making demonstrable progress towards the goals laid out in this national program. This initial recognition signifies that the BSD does practice some of the tenets set forth. Renewal of Star status is contingent upon continued improvement. In short, the award is not an end in itself; the school district is at the start of the journey and has not yet realized the standards set forth. While the award should be applauded, there remains much work to do to come into compliance with all program goals.
Additionally, besides the formal presenters, there were many people attending this meeting (parents, children, the Washington Toxics Coalition and
other experts) who were asking for answers to questions, including what products are currently being used, when are they used and for what purpose.
Concerns were raised over signs used for site notification. One parent from Cherry Crest Elementary school said the current standard is to put out very
small flags and a small note on the school door. She said these notices are not big enough to be seen by children and parents playing on the school grounds after school and on the weekends, potentially
exposing them to pesticides. A suggestion was made to send electronic mail to parents. The district said they are planning to set up such a program.
A list of questions concerning pesticide applications was read into the record. The questions included historical pesticide use and “next steps” in continued development of an IPM program. These questions
An overriding message of those speaking from the audience on this issue was the need for transparency (open communication) of the school district program and actions. As an institution with the stated goal of education, it is my hope the district will use this award as a launching pad to implement and be a public model for this program to its employees and students, the communities it serves, and the region to which it belongs.