Effective September 1, 2021, prekindergarten classes are limited to 22 students.
Senate Bill (SB) 2081, passed in the 87th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, amended Texas Education Code (TEC) §25.112 by adding prekindergarten to the list of grade levels required to limit class sizes to 22 students.
Class size exceptions
A school district may not enroll more than 22 students in a prekindergarten, kindergarten, first, second, third, or fourth grade class. Class size limits do not apply to physical education or fine arts classes. The school district must request a class size exception if a class size exceeds this limit not later than the later of October 1 or the 30th day after the first school day the district exceeds the limit.
The school district may forego the request for exception in any 12-week period selected by the district with a significant percentage of migratory children (TEC §25.112(1)) or the last twelve weeks of the school year. This is only allowable for one 12-week period per school year.
The school district must notify the commissioner of education in writing noting the period the exemption is requested. The commissioner may grant an exception to the school district from the class size limit if it creates an undue hardship on the district. Considerations are given for unanticipated enrollment growth, lack of facilities, lack of teachers, or financial hardships. Exceptions expire at the end of the school year.
The school district is required to provide written notice of the exception to the parent or guardian of each student affected by the exception. Text of the notice must be bolded or underlined and do all the following:
- Specify the class for which an exception from the limit was granted
- State the number of children in the class for which the exception was granted
- Be included in a regular mailing or other communication from the campus or district, such as information sent home with students
The notice must be provided not later than the 31st day after the first day of the school year or the date the exception is granted if it is granted after the beginning of the school year.
HR administrators, in collaboration with campus principals, should monitor prekindergarten through Grade 4 class sizes from the beginning of the school year and throughout the year. Educating principals on the class size requirements can help ensure timely exception reports are made to the commissioner of education, if needed.
Creative staffing solutions also may be used to address class sizes that exceed limits. Adding grade level sections staffed by a certified teacher who may be serving in professional support position (e.g., interventionist) is one approach. Evaluating other grade levels for surplus staff may be another solution.
School districts who repeatedly fail to comply with the class size limits may be subject to appropriate action by the commissioner of education. Information on Maximum Class Size Exceptions can be found on the Texas Education Agency website.
Karen Dooley is a senior HR consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Karen an email at email@example.com.
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