News: Quick Takes

Committee gives approval to bill allowing schools more leeway in reducing class sizes

The House Education Committee (K-12) on Tuesday gave its blessing to a bill giving local school systems more flexibility in class sizes for grades kindergarten through third grade.

The bill is an effort to give local school districts some wiggle room from a provision enacted in the state budget requiring smaller class sizes.

Current law allocates one teacher per 18 students in kindergarten, one teacher per 16 students in first grade, and one teacher per 17 students in second and third grades.

The bill would allow school systems to exceed the average class size by up to three students. The size of an individual class could not exceed the allotment ratio by more than six students.

Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, who sponsored the bill, said it could potentially save his school system about $2.5 million in personnel costs and just less than $1 million for mobile classroom buildings.

“While the mandate that was in the budget bill affects different LEAs (Local Education Authorities, or school systems) in different ways, and this isn’t a total fix because we don’t know exactly what the enrollment will be in whatever grades in the future, this is a fix that will get us a long way there,” McGrady said. “It will give the LEAs the flexibility.”

The bill heads to the House Appropriations Committee.