Integrated Pest Management helps schools develop healthier learning environments

On the national scene the U.S. Environmental Protection agency seeks to help schools pave the path towards healthier schools through integrated pest management (IPM) – ultimately supporting healthier learning environments.

Locally, Maine School IPM is dedicated to reducing risks of pests and pesticides in Maine schools. The School IPM Program, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, is available to help with pest problem-solving advice, training resources and more.

Encounters with rodents, hornets, bats, poisonous plants and other pests can threaten the health and safety of students, staff and visitors on school properties. However, pesticides can also pose a risk and the use of these chemicals in Maine is strictly regulated. All public and private schools serving any grades kindergarten through twelve are required under State law to adopt and implement an integrated pest management (IPM) policy to reduce potential risks of exposure to pests and pesticides.

Specific requirements include:

Appointment of IPM Coordinator. Appoint a staff member to serve as and annually report their name and contact information (email address and phone number) by September 1 via the Department’s NEO system. If unable to use NEO, report via email to pesticides@maine.gov or by calling 287-2731. This information is required to provide necessary educational information and training and ensure compliance with regulations.

Training. The IPM Coordinator must complete two trainings: 1) Initial Training Module must be completed within one month of appointment (available online at www.maine.gov/schoolipm  click on ‘Trainings and Events’) and 2) Comprehensive IPM Training must be completed within one year of appointment (free workshop offered in numerous locations throughout the year. See schedule at www.maine.gov/schoolipm). In addition, the IPM Coordinator must earn one hour of continuing education credit per year.

Notification, Signage and Authorization. A notice describing your school’s IPM program must be included in the school policy manual or student and staff handbooks. Specific information is required. A sample notice is available at www.maine.gov/schoolipm. This information must be kept up to date, but an annual notice to parents and staff is no longer required. A notice about the schools’ IPM policy must be published in policy manuals, such as the student and staff handbooks. Before any pesticide application on school properties (including non-school properties used primarily for official school functions) the IPM coordinator must authorize it. Parents and staff must be notified five days in advance and signs must be posted two days in advance. Some types of applications are exempted. More information and sample notices are available at www.maine.gov/schoolipm or by contacting the Maine Board of Pesticides Control at pesticides@maine.gov or 287-2731.

Licensing. A commercial Pesticide Applicators License is required for all pesticide applications except for the control of stinging insects and for routine use of disinfectants.

Record-Keeping. A Pest Management Activity Log must be kept current and on file for at least two years. Specific records about IPM steps taken and pesticide use must be kept. Sample logbook pages are available at www.maine.gov/schoolipm.

For information about the School IPM Program, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, contact Kathy Murray at kathy.murray@maine.gov or 287-7616.  For additional pesticide information contact the Maine Board of Pesticides Control at pesticides@maine.gov or 287-2731.  For facilities information contact Maine DOE’s Pat Hinckley at pat.hinckley@maine.gov or 624-6886.

Code of Maine Regulations (01-026 CMR Chap.27)