In all of his 53 years in the education business, Raymond Colucciello didn’t see a cockroach. That is, until he took the reins of Fonda-Fultonville Central School District.
“I dealt with plenty of rodents,” he said, “but never roaches.”
Cockroaches were sighted in late July in the Fonda-Fultonville school buildings. At first, district officials thought it might be a relatively small issue, but an investigation said otherwise.
Colucciello couldn’t say exactly how many cockroaches there were, except that the problem fell short of a full-blown infestation, but was “at such a level we needed to mitigate.”
The district brought in Orkin, which sprayed multiple layers of tree sap- and chrysanthemum-based roach poison and set monitoring traps.
“This was a war on pests,” Colucciello said.
In the months since the roaches were first sighted, he has been researching cockroaches in a big way.
“I’ve learned more than I ever wanted to,” he said.
According to Colucciello, cockroaches need three things to flourish: warmth, moisture and food.
“They like being around refrigerators,” he said. “They offer the big three.”
Specifically, he said, the roach population was concentrated in the elementary school cafeteria, a teachers’ break room and three classrooms with regular snack times. All those rooms, he said, were used for eating, but not always cleaned.
In his time on Google, Colucciello also learned that cockroaches are excellent hitchhikers.
“We think they rode in on a box or something,” he said. “They didn’t come out of nowhere.”
The problem is, roaches can ride out on a kid’s backpack as easily as they rode in. Drivers for Brown Transportation, the district’s bus service, have been cleaning the buses every day since the roaches were discovered. School staff sent letters and called parents recommending post-school roach searches.
A few parents thought they found cockroaches on their kids, so the Orkin man checked out the captured bugs.
“But they were just grasshoppers,” Colucciello said.
State Department of Health inspector David Krutz came in Thursday and walked through all three school buildings to check progress.
“Many of the traps were observed,” he said in the report. “All of them were cockroach-free. In addition, no living or dead cockroaches were observed.”
Krutz also said the staff at Fonda-Fultonville is taking the correct steps to solve the problem and said the cooking areas are safe for use.
Since that report, Colucciello said there have been a few more sightings. Orkin already sprayed over the last two weekends, avoiding the school day crowds. They’ll spray again Saturday.
The district also re-signed a $3,400 yearly pest control contract with Orkin that was lost in the shuffle of last year’s budget cuts.
“This requires eternal vigilance,” Colucciello said.