California School News — November 2017
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New In 2018: Pesticide Application Near Schools

New state regulations restricting the application of agricultural pesticides near California schools take effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

The new standards came in response to public concern about the use of pesticides at or near schools and endeavor to provide minimum statewide standards for all agricultural pesticide applications near public K-12 schools and child day care facilities. It is estimated that 2,000 California campuses will be initially affected by the change. That number is likely to grow as marijuana cultivation sites become subject to agricultural requirements in 2018.

The new regulations prohibit the application of agricultural pesticides within one-quarter mile of a school site from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and apply to crop dusters flying over fields, air blasters spraying orchards and fumigants, and most dust and powder pesticides that could be blown onto school grounds by the wind. The new law also requires growers to notify school principals of the pesticides they plan to use on an annual basis.

As of this writing, the full list of schools that will be affected has not been finalized and released by the California Department of Pesticide Regulations (DPR). However, a 2014 study by the California Department of Public Health found that pesticide use within onequarter mile of school sites or child day care facilities occurred in 15 agricultural counties statewide. According to the DPR, more than one million agricultural pesticide applications occur every year in the state.

“These rules will help to further protect the health of children, teachers and school staff from unintended pesticide exposure,” DPR Director Brian Leahy, said in a press release. “They build on our existing strict regulations and give an additional layer of protection that is now consistent across the state.”

Of particular note for school districts is that the DPR has appointed school principals — not district superintendents — as points of contact on these new regulations. “CSBA is advocating on behalf of district and county superintendents for direct access to this important information,” said Nancy Chaires Espinoza, CSBA legislative advocate. “We believe it is extremely important that the superintendent and board have a clear picture of the pesticides being used throughout the district as a whole.”

While the regulations do not require school leadership to disseminate the information, it should be shared with parents and school staff. The regulations are also meant to improve communication with growers within one-quarter mile of the school site regarding school activities that will take place outside the designated time period, such as special evening or weekend events. School leaders can request that pesticide applications not take place during these additional periods, but compliance is on a voluntary basis. The California Association of Agricultural Commissioners has indicated that its members would be happy to advocate on behalf of schools to encourage growers to grant such requests.

What School Board Members Should Know

School principals began receiving information about these new regulations in mid-November through a letter that provided them with log-in information for CalSchoolNotify.org. The website includes information about the use of pesticides near their schools, and provides contact information for growers in their area as well as for their county agricultural commissioner. School board members should ensure that school principals are sharing pesticide notifications with their district’s superintendent. All questions about pesticide safety should be directed to the local county agricultural commissioner.

Going forward, principals will receive an annual list of pesticides to be used from July–June by April 30. Any additional pesticides that will be used and are not included in the original notification must be added to the list at least 48 hours prior to usage.

CSBA recommends that local educational agencies make reference in the annual parent notification to the availability, upon request, of this pesticide information near their child’s school (if any).
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