SALT LAKE CITY — A local lawmaker has introduced legislation, which will limit the number of students in classrooms in kindergarten through the third grade.
Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake City, is running legislation this session that will cap the classroom size for the early grades. Her bill, HB 318, will limit kindergarten classes to 20 students, first- and second-grade classes to 22 students and third-grade classes to 24.
The bill was introduced last week in the House and will be assigned to a committee to begin the legislative review.
Edwards was behind similar legislation last year. Her bill does not call for any additional money to address the issue.
Her legislation addresses both public and charter schools.
The legislation would allow districts to bring in para-professionals, such as grad assistants, to work with elementary students at the beginning grades and would link an accountability system to state targeted funds given to districts, to address classroom sizes.
Utah spends less per pupil than any other state in the U.S. and also was the highest classroom sizes of any state in the nation.
Utah’s teachers are also among the lowest paid in the country.
Edwards said it is clear from the data that one-on-one attention in the classroom makes a big difference in the early grades.
She said her bill dovetails nicely with Gov. Gary Herbert’s initiative to ensure Utah has a college graduation rate of 66 percent among its adult population.
She said before a student can get through college, they need to get through high school, which means they also successfully navigate their first years in the school system.