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Dubuque, Iowa Wins IPM STAR Award for Excellence in Managing Pests
(Beyond Pesticides, December 15, 2004)
Dubuque Community School District (DCSD) in Dubuque, Iowa has won the latest IPM STAR award, becoming only the eleventh school district in the nation to achieve this distinction.

The IPM program at DCSD was initiated in 2003 following a cockroach complaint in a high school that made the local press. A pest control technician sprayed a pesticide to the baseboards in the school. Baseboard spray applications are an old technique that creates pesticide exposure risk for staff and students, and are no longer considered the most effective or the least-toxic method of cockroach control.

DCSD buildings and grounds staff realized it was time to make a change, and contracted with a local company, Voss Pest Control, to provide service on an as-needed basis. Voss does not spray pesticides inside school building, yet is able to effectively resolve pest problems that when DCSD’s in-house staff need assistance.

A recent complaint about cockroaches at one of the high schools, which probably arrived in a student backpack, shows how the approach works. Jim Brimmer, assistant manager of buildings and grounds, was contacted by the school’s head custodian about the problem. Working together, they found a leaking pipe that was providing the pests with access to drinking water. After the leak was fixed, the cockroaches disappeared. The lesson: without water, cockroaches that make their way into the school cannot survive.

IPM STAR certification is a rigorous process that includes an on-site inspection by an independent professional trained in IPM. The inspector examines the history of pest problems, the condition of buildings and grounds, as well as any pesticides used in the past three years. Schools must have an IPM policy and plan in place to guide administrators and staff as they respond to pest issues, including preventing and avoiding problems before they occur.

DCSD is one of 28 school districts in 19 states that are successfully implementing IPM programs. Most of those programs are featured in Safer Schools: Achieving A Healthy Learning Environment Through Integrated Pest Management, a report by Beyond Pesticides and the School Pesticide Reform Coalition.

For reports on other STAR Certification awards see: Vancouver Public Schools 7th in the Nation to Earn IPM Star Certification, Second School System in Nation Certified IPM and Pittsburgh School District's Pest Management Program Gets Certified IPM. For more on DCSD's award goto the IPM Institute.

TAKE ACTION: If your school already has an IPM program in place or other laws regarding pesticide use or right-to-know, find out if they are complying. Work with your school to see what is being done and what still needs to get done. Or, if your school does not already have a program in place contact Beyond Pesticides and learn how to get your school to adopt an IPM program by:
(1) Identifying the school's pest management policy;
(2) Educating yourself and evaluating the program;
(3) Organizing the school community;
(4) Working with school decision-makers; and,
(5) Becoming a watchdog and establishing an IPM Committee.

For more information and resources, see Beyond Pesticides' Children and Schools issue pages.