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Legislation lowers K-3 class sizes

SALT LAKE CITY – A Utah lawmaker has proposed a bill that would reduce lower-grade class sizes in schools.

House Bill 318 would put a limit on the number of students per classroom in kindergarten through third grade, but the legislation doesn’t provide more funding to hire more teachers and qualified classroom assistants.

This isn’t the first time this legislation has been proposed. It passed through the Senate last year, but never made it out of the House.

Supporters say studies have shown that lower class sizes improve literacy and help promote better learning later on.

“Study after study have just confirmed what parents and teachers have known for a long time, which is class size matter for early literacy and also creating a foundation for additional learning through the years,” said Rebecca Edwards, R-North Salt Lake.

But some educators worry the bill would create a lot of financial problems, and with Utah having the lowest per-pupil funding in the nation, that’s something they can’t ignore.

“If we don’t have additional money, how are we going to be able to fund the teachers that are going to be teaching these kids. And the space issue as well, how are we going to find the space,” said Cindy Tingey, assistant principal at Daybreak Elementary.

One possible result of the bill would be increased class sizes in grades 4 through 12.

The bill had its first public hearing on Monday, and no decision was made.

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