Lenoir City Schools addresses pest problem

Stephanie Myers-News-Herald

Before Lenoir City Board of Education members, central office staff and other school administrators sat down to a hearty lunch in the board room, they had to maintain a strong stomach.

The board discussed ways to combat an ongoing pest problem at Lenoir City High School's gym concession stand.

"... At the high school and that gym over there, there's been rats, roaches, all kinds of bugs over there. We're paying all that money. Why are they not doing a better job at what they're doing?" BOE member Bobby Johnson Sr. said before the board approved Frontier Pest Control of Knoxville as the district's pest controller for another year.

Mike Sims, supervisor of support services, said it's been a never-ending battle for 20 years. He attributed the problem to food being stored in the concession area "all the time," especially during basketball season.

"Our gymnasium is probably used several days a week. Like right now, basketball has been over about a month. We've had (Amateur Athletic Union) teams in there every night and then there is AAU tournaments on the weekends. They serve food in there," Sims said after the meeting. "It's a never-ending cycle. If we could solve it we would be millionaires. Every concession stand where you have that much food running through there, and plus you've got kids in there eating, throwing it on the side. You know, it's a never-ending battle."

"Is there any extra precautions they can take?" BOE Chairwoman Rosemary Quillen asked during the meeting.

"I can surely look into it, but it's, when you have food brought in in boxes and you leave it stored in there, sitting on the counters, don't put it back up. If we had plastic containers that we could put everything in then we can control that, but just leaving it sitting under the counters ..." Sims said before Johnson piped in.

"Well, they're even in the rooms over there in the gym part," Johnson said.

Principal Steve Millsaps said he has not heard any complaints.

"Hey, I've been out there, and I've seen roaches that big run by you," Johnson said, holding his index fingers about two inches apart. "That big they'd attack you, and mice are running around everywhere."

Sims said Frontier Pest Control treats the facilities every month.

Other administrators said they've seen similar issues in their school as well, but did not see it as a pressing concern.

Lenoir City Intermediate/Middle School Principal Chip Orr said the school saw problems during the recent construction of the seventh- and eighth-grade wing.

"We had a mouse infestation, and eventually they resolved that issue for it," Orr said. "I'm kind of like Mike. Where we see the problems are the places that have food. ... It's where you expect to see it. We certainly don't have a quote 'problem,' but I think that's the nature of having food."

Sims brought up the idea of curbing pest problems with plastic storage.

"If we can store it in plastic containers every night then you're going to cut that way down," Sims said.

"Well, why can't we do that?" Johnson said. "Can we not furnish these containers? It's for the school anyway, isn't it? Instead of them (teachers) having to buy that why can't we furnish that? I don't know how much it costs."

After about 10 minutes of discussion, the board decided to award the bid to Frontier Pest Control and let Sims and Superintendent Jeanne Barker research the feasibility of storage alternatives.

"We will see what we need and what it costs. We'll find out and make sure that we are doing everything possible to keep that issue down," Barker said.

"And if we need them more often we'll just call them," Quillen said about Frontier Pest Control. The service will cost $400 a month to treat 10 facility areas.

In other business, the board:

*� Approved board policy revisions to its emergency preparedness plan, which now addresses armed intruders. Barker said the policy amendment is a suggested change from the Tennessee School Boards Association.

*� Approved board policy revisions to the in-service and staff development opportunities and compulsory attendance age policies. The in-service and staff development opportunities policy, Barker said, basically includes new wording, such as calling in-service training days the professional learning program. The compulsory attendance ages policy will be just updated to the current school year.

*� Announced it will have a workshop at 11 a.m. Thursday.