Lack of system led to roaches: official

FONDA – At the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District’s Board of Education meeting Monday, the superintendent said the district will continue to use a pest management system, even though exterminators reported the recent fight against a cockroach infestation is going well.

Superintendent Ray Colucciello said he believes the recent infestation occurred because there was a period of time, for the 2012-13 school year, where there wasn’t any pest management in the school district.

He said the district eliminated the system, apparently thinking they would save around $4,000, after the prior pest management company reported there weren’t any pests.

“You don’t normally have gaps in pest management systems; the reason you don’t have sightings is because you have a pest management system,” he said. “[In] hindsight, when you don’t see anything, that’s when you keep your pest management system and not let them go.”

On Sept. 6, FFCS sent a letter home with students, explaining that cockroaches were found in several locations of the school. That weekend, the school district closed the buildings and began treatment. The buildings were reopened on Sept. 9 in order to resume classes.

This process was repeated two more times for a total of three treatments throughout the buildings.

Fred Hauck, the school’s health and safety specialist, said that in mid-July the district had sightings of cockroaches. They contacted several pest management companies and by the end of July they were monitoring the situation. When people began reoccupying the building at the end of August, Hauck said the district “realized [the infestation] was more than just a minor concern.”

That’s when FFCS entered a contract for an extermination plan with Orkin. Under the contract, the annual cost of the pest management is $3,400.

Rob Granfors, Orkin branch manager, said the exterminators conducted an inspection.

“We came into the school, and the first thing we did was a comprehensive inspection,” Granfors said. “We wanted to see how severe the problem was. We always use a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst, 1 being the best; we considered the infestation level to be a 10 when we started,” Granfors said. “We believe the infestation level now is a level 1. We’re very, very happy with the results so far.”

Now that the infestation level is down, Granfors said Orkin will use a “baiting program.”

The baiting program restricts the food source for the cockroaches and lures them to the bait as the only available source of food. After the cockroaches are lured in, he said, they’re exterminated.

“Sanitation is key to this working,” Granfors said. “There can’t be an alternate food source in this program, they have to go for our bait in order for this to be successful, so sanitation is a very big factor in this.”

Officials said the district has been reviewing the way it handles food, stores it and disposes of it in preparation for the baiting phase.

Colucciello reminded everyone the school district was never advised to close down because of the infestation.

“At no time did any agency ever suggest that we close Fonda-Fultonville Schools: no health agency, no doctors, no health department. So, some say ‘why aren’t you closing?’ but it was never part of this process. If we thought the students were at risk, we certainly would have closed,” he said.

Elementary school nurse, Deborah Mancini, said she’s been working with Montgomery County Health and the school’s physician, Dr. John Glenn. She said they’ve been updating each other about what’s going on and what they’re doing in the process to maintain health safety.

She said she’s also been in contact with several parents who have concerns regarding their children.

“We know that certain particles from cockroaches can cause issues with people that have allergies and asthma,” Mancini said. “We are working closely with parents.”

Casey Croucher can be reached at [email protected].

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