The Bellevue School District has become the 27th in the nation, and the fourth program in Washington state to earn certification for pest management.
The district, which serves more than 16,000 students, manages pests primarily with pro-active, preventive practices rather than relying on pesticide applications.
Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a common sense approach to solving pest problems. For example, the district has installed door sweeps on all its exterior doors to block entry by mice, ants and other pests. Studies have shown this simple measure, closing the gap between the bottom of the door and the door sill, can reduce pest problems by as much as 65 percent. The sweeps also help to keep dirt out and reduce energy costs by preventing heating/cooling loss.
Typical pests in schools and childcare facilities and play yards include ants, mice, cockroaches and stinging insects. By avoiding “pest-conducive conditions” that make pests feel at home, many problems can be completely eliminated, permanently, without resorting to potentially hazardous pesticides.
“Bellevue made a number of improvements during the certification process,” said Dr. Carrie Foss, urban IPM coordinator with Washington State University Puyallup, who conducted the evaluation. “We reviewed the entire program, from policies to practices to products used. The district now has an IPM policy and an IPM coordinator, Ryan Vucinovich, who oversees the day-to-day operation of the IPM program.”
“The IPM STAR process helped us identify where we could improve control of pests and reduce pesticide use,” according to Nancy Larson, who manages the facilities department for Bellevue. “Our food service and custodial staff have learned how important they are in keeping our schools free of pests by denying them access to food, water and shelter.”
IPM STAR certification is the nation’s most exclusive honor for excellence in managing pests in educational facilities. This award is only presented after a passing score on a rigorous, on-site evaluation by an independent pest management professional.
The district was presented with the award at the Tuesday, May 20, school board meeting.