Class sizes in Mission are among the largest in B.C., according to recently released numbers from the province.
For students in grades 8 through 12, Mission had the sixth most-crowded schools, with an average class size of 25.3. That’s above the provincial average of 23.2 students per class, and an increase from the previous year’s total of 24.9 students per Grade 8-12 class.
However, it is still below the provincially mandated maximum class size of 30 students.
“We don’t have any academic class from Grade 4 to Grade 12 that is over 30 students,” said Randy Huth assistant superintendent of Mission Public Schools (school district 75).
Mission also ranked highly in lower grade levels. According to the report, for students in grades 4 through 7, Mission’s average of 27.8 students was the fourth highest in the province. The provincial average was 26.
Grade 1-3 saw Mission place seventh highest at 22.4 (provincial average was 21.8) and in Kindergarten, Mission was sixth highest with 20.6 students compared to the provincial average of 19.5.
Maximum sizes for primary classes (Grades 1-3) is 24 students while Kindergarten classes have a maximum of 22 students.
Mission does have some classes with more than 30 students, including band, leadership, drama and choir, but those are permitted by the province because they are not academic courses.
Huth called class size a constant challenge, especially for a smaller school district, adding the district is careful with its staffing numbers to ensure it doesn’t have a budget deficit.
“We do staff our schools very, very tightly,” he said. “Because if you over-staff a school, that’s a $100,000 mistake.”
However, having larger class sizes can pose problems as the year progresses.
“When new students come into the district that are starting after spring break, a lot of our schools are so closely staffed that there isn’t a place for them in that neighbourhood school. We have to find a place for them in another school,” said Huth.
At the end of the year, students can apply to attend the neighbourhood school beginning in September.
Huth said because Mission is a smaller district, attending a different school is a viable alternative.
The maximum provincially acceptable walking distance from home to school is 4.1 kilometres for elementary students and 4.9 kilometres for middle and secondary students.