Senate Approves Bill to Reduce Class Size

(KCPW News) Utah lawmakers are putting more effort into reducing class sizes in public schools, with a bill that would cap them in kindergarten through third grade clearing the Senate floor this morning. Democratic Senator Karen Morgan’s bill would limit kindergarten classrooms to 20 students, first and second grade to 22, and 24 for third grade. Any classroom that didn’t meet the limit would be required to have a teacher’s aide.

“This is one of the greatest concerns of parents who have their children in elementary schools today along the Wasatch front, the overcrowded classrooms,” Morgan says. “Kindergarten through third grade is a critical time in a child’s education. That is the time they need more one on one individualized attention.”

Before the vote, the bill was amended to raise the cap slightly to bring down the cost of the measure, and specify that in order for schools to qualify for class size reduction funding from the state, those caps must be met.

But some lawmakers, including Republican Senator Curt Bramble, argued this will put education funding in a predicament.

“If spending the billion dollars over the last 10 or 12 years, a hundred and some million per year has not solved the problem, I don’t know how a mandate that would give us an additional $3 million could solve the problem,” he says. “It’s laudable, but I don’t think a mandate will achieve that.”

The bill passed with nine “no” votes, all from Republicans. It faces one more Senate vote before moving to the House.