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Evaluating the Costs of IPM in Schools

Cartoon of a scared mouse and cockroaches carrying their belongings and hitchhiking in front of a school

Preliminary indications from IPM programs in school systems suggest that long-term costs of IPM may be less than a conventional pest control program that relies solely on the use of pesticides. However, the long-term labor costs for IPM may be higher than those for conventional pesticide treatments. The labor costs may be offset by reduced expenditures for materials.

Whether an IPM program raises or lowers costs depends in part on the nature of the current housekeeping, maintenance, and pest management operations. The costs of implementing an IPM program can also depend on whether the pest management services are contracted, performed in-house, or both. To fit the IPM program into the existing budgetary framework, school administrators must consider what additional and redistributed expenditures are involved. As with any program, insufficient resources will jeopardize the success of IPM.

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Potential Added Costs

Initiating an IPM program may require repair and maintenance activities to prevent pest entry and to eliminate sources of shelter, food, and moisture. Examples of these one-time expenses that may result in future budgetary savings include--

In the long term, these repair and maintenance activities will reduce overall costs of the pest control operation, as well as other maintenance and operating budgets. Whether these costs are actually budgeted as a pest control expense or under some other budgetary category depends on the budgetary format of the school system. School systems with an active maintenance and repair program may be able to absorb these activities within the current budget.

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Successful practice of IPM relies on accurate record keeping, which leads to more efficient procurement. As the IPM program progresses, predictable events and pest control needs will be identified. Close consultation with the pest management specialist is essential for good decisions on purchases within the budget.

Some non-pesticide products, such as traps, can be stocked to reduce purchases in future years, but few savings can be realized by purchasing pesticides in bulk. It is probably best to keep no more than a 60-day pesticide inventory to assure product freshness and to avoid limiting cash flow. Pest managers should be able to anticipate needs to fit a 60-day buying schedule.

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"In-House" or Contracted Services

IPM programs can be successfully implemented by "in-house" school employees or by contracting with a pest control company. A combination of in-house and contracted functions may be mixed and matched to the needs and capabilities of the school system. Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages. Individual school systems must decide what is best for them given their unique circumstances. Whether you choose in-house or contracted services, pest management personnel should be trained to--

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