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II. PILOT FINDINGS

In December of 2006, this Toolkit was piloted in a Salt Lake City high school with approximately 1,700 students. With the help of Sonja Wallace, Utah DEQ and Gregg Smith, SLC School District Facilities Service Manager, key members of the staff were brought together to form an advisory team, including the school principal, head custodian and teacher representatives from the various departments (science, art, etc.). An introduction to the toolkit was given and department heads were interviewed and asked for comments on the inventory and disposal worksheets and BMP checklists. A team meeting was held to discuss the key issues of chemical management in schools. The pilot resulted in several key observations , three of which are highlighted below, along with a list of bulleted recommendations. First it became clear that in order to succeed in the chemical cleanout process, a champion is needed to lead the cause at the school, district and state level. These positions will necessitate either additional FTE or a stipend to ensure that adequate time and accountability are committed to the process.

In addition, an annual mandatory training session for both teachers and administrators is critical to ensure that local, state and federal regulations are known, individual roles in the process of compliance are understood , and chemical safety, handling and emergency procedures are addressed.

Finally, once an inventory and the resulting chemical disposal is complete, a chemical management plan should be put into place, including an annual inventory review, a hazard communication plan, and a purchasing policy (preferably district wide) to regulate future purchases.

At a bare minimum the purchasing policy should address procurement procedures, how to handle donations, and the pros and cons of bulk purchasing. Purchasing was identified as a key issue in the success of continued chemical management.

Below is a list (including the aforementioned observations) of the key recommendations derived from the pilot.

PILOT RECOMMENDATIONS
  • Create a paid position (stipend) for managing the program at the school level (i.e. “Chemical Cop”).
  • Select a visible “Champion” at the district level to lead the cause and present to the state's Board of Education (BOE).  Position should ultimately be a paid one.
  • Chose a point person on the Board Of Education to back the cause.
  • Conduct annual, mandatory training sessions for teachers and administration to review regulations affecting school chemical use, chemical management issues in general, chemical handling and safety, and emergency procedures.
  • Explore the benefits/pitfalls to a “Central Store Management”/”Pharmacy System” (i.e. secure, trackable system in a centralized dispensing room) as an option to improve chemical management.
  • Develop a Cradle-to-Grave Purchasing policy at District level
    • Include cost of disposal in budget
    • Address the dilemma of student lab fees and percent of waived fees.
    • Decrease duplicative purchases
    • Track lifecycle expenses of chemicals to support case for new purchasing procedures to State Board of Education
  • Create an online inventory of acceptable chemicals in schools.
  • Offer “Amnesty Days” for school clean out to aid schools with the cost of chemical disposal (i.e. designated day when waste disposal fees are waived for schools conducting first chemical clean-out).
  • Create a “Chemical Free School Status” certification with insurance reduction incentives.
  • Introduce/increase pollution prevention alternatives in science labs, including microscale chemistry, green chemistry, or even video lab options.

The findings from the pilot have been interwoven into this Toolkit. The Toolkit provides direction and tools for schools to proceed through their own chemical cleanout processes. This Toolkit is intended to be followed in the general order described the following pages, i.e. preparation & training, inventory, disposal, storage etc. In addition, this Toolkit has been created with the understanding that it will be an electronic document; therefore, brief descriptions of each step are offered under each Department-Specific section heading followed by links to other relevant files.

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