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Gutted Utah class size bill passes committee

Published March 5, 2013 1:04 pm

Education • Rejected version would have limited class sizes in grades K-3; new version only adds reporting requirements.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A bill originally meant to reduce Utah's large class sizes passed out of committee Tuesday — but only after it was gutted to no longer actually cut class sizes.

Rep. Rebecca Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, changed her bill, HB318, on Tuesday so that it would merely require school districts and charter schools to report how they're using current money they receive from the state to reduce class sizes.

The original bill would have limited class sizes in grades K-3 over four years, or schools could have hired paraprofessionals to work with educators to drive down student-to-adult ratios.

But that measure ran into opposition from those who called it an unfunded mandate. They pointed out that it didn't include any new funding, meaning schools might have had to cut other areas to slash class sizes in the early grades.

Schools also could have lost current class size reduction money had they not been able to meet the requirements of that version of the bill, which the House Education Committee voted not to advance in February.

On Tuesday, Edwards brought back the revised bill before the same committee, which passed it 9-2.

"It's an incremental step toward gaining an understanding of current class size funding," Edwards said of the new version.

A 2007 legislative audit showed that $460 million allocated toward class size reduction over seven years hadn't led to any change, though some have said class sizes would have been even larger if not for that money. Utah schools received more than $100 million this fiscal year to reduce class sizes.

The bill now moves to the House floor.




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