Almaden Resident

April 17, 2015

Almaden Resident

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Silicon Valley Community Newspapers $1.00 Volume 12, Issue 27 April 17, 2015 176 $1.00 BY LEETA-ROSE BALLESTER Local school officials say they are looking at alter- natives to weed abatement chemicals used on school grounds as experts grapple with differing opinions on safety. Mary Ann Meisenbach, facilities and maintenance supervisor for the Union Elementary School District, said the district tries to apply the spray during holi- days or weekends so there is a "time lapse." But the school district is also exploring other methods. "We're looking at alternative methods" to herbicide, Meisenbach said, adding that she would soon be at- tending a training that gives insight into other weed abatement tools, like burning. Though, with a small facilities staff, she said, Roundup has been on of the most efficient methods to keep weeds at bay. Cecilia Holmberg, a parent in the Union Elementary School District, said she feels changes can't come soon enough and she's glad that more people are looking into possible adverse effects of popular herbicides. Holmberg said she is aware that schools are using products that are approved by state agencies, but she would "like to see them stop using toxic substances around kids" altogether. "It's easy for schools to say 'the label says it's safe,'" she said. "Maybe they don't realize the kids might play with those weeds. [Children] pick the burrs, they look for bugs." District officials say that at least 24-hour notice is given and that parents can also register to be personally notified 72 hours in advance, all within accordance of the California Healthy Schools Act of 2000 which aims to limit exposure by requiring use of the least toxic techniques of pest and weed control when possible. Holmberg, who has been a vocal opponent of herbicide use, contacted this newspaper after filing a complaint with the district for what she believes was inadequate notifica- tion prior to a spray of glysophate, a chemical found in the weed killer Roundup. She said that signs were posted, but they were small and hard to see. SCHOOLS LOOKING FOR ALTERNATIVES TO HERBICIDES FOR CONTROLLING WEEDS Roundup is effective, but some question safety at schools Rad American Women: Hicklebee's welcomes author, illustrator of books featuring surprising women role models ........................................ page 5 Turn of the Century: San Jose Woman's Club presents annual Naglee Park home tour ...... page 8 A NEWSPAPER PHOTOGRAPH BY GEORGE SAKKESTAD Star Struck Sandra Faber stands in front of the giant 120-inch Shane telescope at the Lick Observatory. It was with this telescope that she launched her research career 40 years ago. Sandra Faber has spent a lifetime intrigued by the stars page 10 Roundup, page 6

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