Dirty dishes from the middle school’s Renaissance Faire were stacked in the kitchen. (Photo by Cissy Shi)

Rats invade MP room—again!

In the multipurpose room, underneath the sound booth, sits the school piano. On top is a cloth piano cover, which is littered with rodent feces and full of dried rodent urine.

Much of the MP room electrical equipment, such as microphones and speakers, used to be covered in excrement as well.

And in the kitchen, rat excrement was recently removed from above the refrigerator.

Scrubbing this equipment is an annual chore for band teacher Bob Ratcliff.

“I’ve been dealing with this since day one,” Ratcliff said.

Since he started teaching at Country Day in 2000, Ratcliff has battled rat infestations, as he works and teaches in the MP room.

“It’s like mosquitoes,” he said. “Some years they’re bad and some years they’re not.”

Ratcliff said the rodent problem has increased slightly over the past two years, but this year is the worst it has been in a while. Three to four years ago, the rats were much less prevalent.

Several years ago, Jay Holman, director of the physical plant, had Western Exterminator come to identify the rats’ entry points into the building. The maintenance staff then filled in any holes and pipes and again in early February.

Holman said rats can still enter the building through any holes (as small as a quarter) that were left unfilled.

The doors to the building are also a concern. A sign on the kitchen door tells people to keep it closed at all times, yet it is often left open.

“We can do as much preventive maintenance as we want,” Holman said, “but if someone props the doors open, then rats can get in. I close those doors daily. Daily.”

Ratcliff added, “I close the doors daily!”

Although the kitchen was used to prepare school lunches until 2010, it now remains mostly empty, as lunches are prepared off campus by Goodfellas4Kids catering service.

But faculty, students and the Parents’ Association often enter to fetch ice, bowls and utensils, Ratcliff said.

According to drama teacher Brian Frishman, whose office is in the MP room, problems arose last summer when Breakthrough prepared food in the kitchen or left food out.

Because the kitchen was unoccupied after Breakthrough finished, leftover food attracted the rats.

Frishman said that the last infestation that he really noticed was seven years ago. However, three weeks ago he found a dead rat in his office.

“It was a horrible stink,” he said.

The current infestation, however, has not disrupted classes, Ratcliff and Frishman said.

“(The rat problem) hasn’t affected (drama) except for scaring a couple of the actresses,” Frishman said.

Holman, under the counsel of Western Exterminator, uses baited snap traps to kill the rats. A representative comes on campus every Saturday to monitor the progress.

Holman has pulled out five rats (the last of which was removed on Feb. 18) and had hoped that he got all of them.

But a rat sighting on March 13 ruined the streak. Snap traps remain in the MP room in untrafficked areas.

Despite the problems the rodents have caused Ratcliff, he said he is content with maintenance’s efforts.

“(Holman) comes in here all the time to ask me how it’s going,” he said. “They’re on top of it.”

According to Holman, Western Exterminator said rodent monitoring boxes (the black boxes on the ground that can be found throughout campus) have detected an increase in rodent activity  throughout the region.


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