Lawmakers consider raising class-sizes to cut costs

By Layron Livingston - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - It's small classes vs. smaller budgets. State Comptroller Susan Combs is recommending doing away with a quarter century old Texas law that limits kindergarten-to-fourth grade classes to 22 students.

Since 1984, Texas law has restricted kindergarten through fourth grade classrooms from having more than 22 students.

Anything over that number, and the class gets divided, a new teacher is brought in, as well as the need for a new classroom.

Last May, we spoke to State Senator Florence Shapiro (R-Plano). Shapiro lead a select committee which explored getting rid of the mandate.

"It is a very expensive proposition for our schools," said Shapriro.

Other legislative leaders say easing up on the requirement could save the state hundreds of millions of dollars. The state is already facing a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall.

"There's no valid statistic that proves that you get a better learning environment with a 22-1 ratio," said Shapiro. "The number one relevant issue in a class is the teacher."

Nikki Aubuchon, a first grade teacher and member of the American Federation of Teachers, agreed that teachers are important, but said smaller classes are crucial to young children's success.

"If I'm stressed out because I've got 25 kiddos in my classroom, they're not getting the best of me," she said.

Aubuchon said students do much better in smaller classroom settings.

State comptroller Susan Combs recently recommended getting rid of the 22 elementary student limit and switching to an "average standard of 22."

"It's easy to step aside and say, oh it's just three more kids—it's not that big of a deal," said Aubuchon. "But, if they spent a week with us, I guarantee you, they'd have a different opinion."

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