Parents across the U.S. are asking this question: "As a parent, how do I get Integrated Pest Management implemented (IPM) in my child's school?" Often parents can provide the most influential voice on issues regarding school policies. Getting Integrated Pest Management (IPM) into your child's school or even the entire district can begin at the grass roots level by organizing concerned parents. If your school or school district is not currently using IPM, the following five-step process can help you initiate IPM.
It is important to have at least some knowledge of the current pest control program used in your school. A good starting place for this information is the supervisor of pest control.
Somewhere, or through someone, you have heard a little about IPM and it sounded good. Now, you need to find out all the details you can and become an educated advocate for the program. It is not important to understand how to control each pest. What is important is to understand the principles of IPM and why it is an improvement over conventional pest control. Only by knowing the facts will you be able to persuade others to join your efforts.
There are several resources available to you. This web site contains information on many aspects of IPM. Within this web site you will also find links to many other resources. No single Internet site will be able to answer every question. There are also many local resources available to you. Your local county extension agent, county/city environmental resources department personnel, and school health personnel should also be able to provide additional information.
If you haven't already, get involved with your school's PTA and bring up the issue of IPM at a meeting. The more parents interested in IPM the higher the chance of success in getting IPM in your school. PTA officers likely are among the decision-makers at the school. The more informed they are about IPM the better equipped they will be to lobby the local school board. Your school's principal also would be a good person to speak with. At least make the principal aware that a group of parents are concerned about excessive pesticide use in the school and that alternatives such as IPM exist.
One of the most important steps in getting IPM into your school is to get the local school board to approve an IPM policy statement district-wide.
Everyone struggles with change. Depending on the type of pest management currently being used in your school district the switch to IPM can amount to just a few adjustments or a major overhaul including re-training of personnel. In order to make the change as smooth as possible and with as much success as possible, implementing IPM at one specific location in your school district for a trial period may be worth considering. A trial could consist of switching several schools over to IPM, switching just one entire school, or just a few isolated structures (i.e. the media center and administration wing, if combined) at one school. Remember, IPM is a process. In order for an IPM trial to be successful, a period up to one year may be necessary.
Eventually, it will be important for the school district to have some sort of School IPM Committee made up of concerned parents, pest managers, administrators, etc. Establishment of such a committee will increase sustainability of a School IPM Program. The role of this committee is to review the IPM program periodically and incorporate feedback from the schools into possible policy changes.