How many students is too many for one teacher?

TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- KEPR has kept a close watch at the problem of overcrowding in schools here in the Tri-Cities. We learned the high student-teacher ratios here are contributing to Washington being ranked 47th lowest in the nation for this comparison.

Heidi Bridges gets the day with her son, but she didn't intentionally pull him out of his Pasco kindergarten. He has the day off.

Heidi explains, "They alternate every Wednesday because there's an overwhelming amount of kids in the schools now."

Like many schools in our area, James McGee Elementary is struggling to make room for all the kids. Classrooms across all Pasco schools average 28 kids per teacher.

"I don't know how many more students can get crammed into one room," she continues.

Assistant Superintendant Calaine Bacon knows the load can be hard on teachers and students alike. She taught for more than twenty years in the district.

"You have to be intentional about your instruction and activities and be sure you're meeting the needs of every kid in the class. You have to be very focused," Calaine says.

Pasco has a multi-million dollar bond on the ballot in February and three locations ready for new schools.

"If we can get another school built, maybe we can ease the overwhelming of the teachers, schools and kids and get kids in classes more," Heidi adds.

Richland is also stuffed with students. It averages 23 kids per teacher.
The district is also hoping to pass a bond in February that could ease overcrowding.

Pasco has tried thinking out of the box, considering a multi-track, year-round schedule to lessen the number of kids in schools at one time.Something that parents like Heidi hope to avoid.

"We'll continue to struggle and be overwhelmed so I'm hoping the bond passes," Heidi says.

Kennewick averages 22 kids for every one teacher. It is not putting a bond before voters, after passing one just a few years ago. That built one new elementary school and is still remodeling others.