Alameda school pesticide policy

Michele Ellson of The Island has a post up about the Alameda Unified School District‘s pesticide use policy and what Laura DiDonato, a parent who serves on the committee that created the policy, says is the district’s violation of its own rules.

Apparently, in 2001 AUSD approved a pest management policy in order to accord with California law which called for the use of pesticides only in cases of emergency, but has recently stopped following it. According to DiDonato, California law requires school districts to have a registry of parents who wish to be notified when pesticides are going to be sprayed, to post warning signs before and after spraying, and also keep records of pesticide use for public inspection. But DiDonato told The Island that only the only rule that is being followed is the one that requires general notification about the possibility of pesticide use. Ellson wrote about that notification a while back.


  • D. K.

    I remember when I was in school – food was only allowed in the cafeteria or our locker if we brought our lunch from home. Since we now serve breakfast as well as lunch, and kids are allowed to snack, and comestibles are allowed virtually everywhere at some schools – is the need for pesticides a surprise?

    Are the risks associated with insect or rodent bites or inhalation of droppings less than the risks involved with the appropriate controlled use of pesticides?

    If you think we have a hard time knowing BOE policies, do you think AUSD workers or service contractors know what our BOE does or the policies they create? Do you think over worked, understaffed crews are informed, or have time to research and read BOE policies while on the clock? Do you think they should be obligated to do that research on their own time for their lower-than-average pay scales?

    I don’t want to sound cynical, but I see the same lack of communication in the school district where I work. There is a huge unperceived void between the BOE and the district’s workforce. Obviously this void is important to fill. Perhaps it can be related to helping to close the achievement gap if we can so improve our inner communications. Good school districts are not based on ‘curb appeal’ so much as the shared spirit of cooperation.

    Perhaps the 1st step toward reducing the need of pesticides is to reduce the areas where food sources are attracting the pests which would also lower the costs and labor load for the caretakers of our facilities. We also have to consider what the alternatives are in practical terms. I remember when I had gone to a local nursery asking about non-toxic ways to get rid of gophers – I was asked if I had kids, when I answered in the affirmative, I was told “hedge clippers.” You can imagine the visual image I was struck with. Who has the time or inclination for that kind of alternative? There is only so much ant abatement you can do with rosemary and talc.