S.4983-C (Foley) A.7937-C (Englebright)
Assembly 3rd Reading
AN ACT to amend the environmental conservation law,
in relation to prohibit the use of certain toxic chemicals for law and grounds maintenance
On behalf of nearly 700 school districts and 5,000 locally elected school officials, the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) OPPOSES S.4983-A/A.7937-A.
School districts have been extremely responsive to student exposure to chemicals and pesticides, as evidenced by the recent green cleaning product and integrated pest management laws. Student health and safety is of paramount concern to schools statewide. School districts are continuously mindful of weighing benefits and risks when making decisions that effect students’ health and safety.
Additionally, school districts are attentive to the time when pesticides are applied. In order to limit exposure the application of pesticides typically takes places over the summer months, or at least during other periods when school is not in session. The sponsor’s memo indicates that currently students are being harmed — if this is in fact true, we would appreciate knowing immediately which districts are putting students at risk.
Facility maintenance and the use of pesticides is a unique function that can only be fully analyzed and determined at the local level. The local school districts know best the schedule, circumstances and the interests of the community. These are the local factors that must be weighed when deciding how to best use pesticides.
The sponsor’s memo also reports that pesticides are used for the sake of appearances, when in fact the truth is pesticides are used to preserve the condition of playing fields. School playing fields are subject to near constant use, unlike other fields such as little league or community parks. School playing fields are used for multiple purposes and shared year round between sports like football, soccer, lacrosse, baseball and physical education classes. The concern to schools is not about being pretty but rather about keeping the fields functional and in good repair for student use and enjoyment.
This bill creates a mandate on school districts at a time when massive cuts and added pressures are being placed upon school districts. The last thing school districts need right now is another unfunded directive from the state. The costs associated with the training and materials needed to comply with this mandate would contribute to the deep and drastic cuts of personnel, programs and services that schools will surely need to make in the coming months.
School districts have always put students at the heart of all decisions. This bill fails to recognize the importance of local control and the necessity of prohibiting unfunded mandates. For these reasons the New York State School Boards Association urges the members of the committee to vote no to this bill.
For additional information, please contact David Little, Director of Governmental Relations, at 518-783-0200 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.