Smaller class sizes for your kids could be coming

Smaller class sizes for your kids could be coming »Play Video
TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- Smaller class sizes would be the goal of every parent. But paying for it is another issue. A new ballot measure hopes to shrink class sizes across the state. KEPR looked at how close our districts are to meeting the guideline and what would need to be done to hit it.

Rona Bearson's Filipino culture has shaped her outlook on education.

"We have a motto in our culture that education is the best foundation," said Bearson.

Cynthia Morris shares that view.

"If you have education, you can go anywhere you want. Knowledge is power," said Morris.

They were excited at the prospect of reducing class sizes for their kids.

"If there is a smaller number of kids in a class, the teacher can really take care of them when it comes to learning, because you can intimately work with them," she said.

Initiative 1351 got enough signatures to put the issue before voters.
It has an overall goal of reducing class sizes, but doesn't exactly outline how to pay for it. If the initiative were to pass this fall, all three of our districts here in the Tri-Cities would have a lot of work to do to meet the new guidelines. Marianne Bichsel helped with the signature-gathering effort for I-1351.

"This has really struck a chord with people because it's very clear that the people of Washington State want every child to learn in an uncrowded classroom," said Bichsel.

Class sizes would be 17 kids per classroom in non-poverty schools, K-3. Up to 25 kids would be allowed for 4th to 12th grades. Numbers are even smaller for high poverty schools. Quite a few schools in the Tri-Cities meet this mark.

Currently, Richland averages 22 to 27 kids depending on the grade for K-5. Kennewick ranged from 23 to 26 for the same grade level. And Pasco was between 25 and 29.

"Probably the biggest concern or issue that people will have with the initiative is how will you pay for it?" said Richland School District Superintendent, Rick Schulte.

The campaign spokesperson says it would be up to lawmakers since they are required to fully fund basic education.

"We believe that having a class size that enables children to learn effectively is part of that basic education mandate," said Bichsel.

The decision for smaller class sizes will now be in your hands.

Washington State ranks 47th worst out of the 50 states for class size.