More kids in classrooms? It’s possible in Tennessee

A new bill would eliminate class size limits, and leave it up to local school districts and county commissions
A new bill would eliminate class size limits, and leave it up to local school districts and county commissions
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 9:09 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2023 at 11:08 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - More students in your child’s classroom is a possibility in Tennessee. A new bill would get rid of class size limits in public schools, and not everybody is on board.

Should the bill pass, it would be up to individual counties and school districts to set that maximum class size. However, some East Tennessee teachers think that could drive even more teachers out of schools.

“If we add, even five more kids to a classroom, for some of my classes, that would be a catastrophe,” said one East Tennessee teacher, who spoke under the condition of anonymity.

Right now, there is a limit for different grades.

  • Grades K-3: 25 students
  • Grades 4-6: 30 students
  • Grades 7-12: 35 students

“What’s to say that one county has as much money as another county in revenue, in funds to be able to hire more teachers,” the teacher said.

Knox County School Board members said they haven’t had any discussions about the bill yet. However, multiple board members told WVLT News that any bill that would get rid of class size limitations would be concerning.

The bill was introduced by Republican Senator Jon Lundberg from Bristol.

In a statement, he said, “Every school district is different. This bill will give LEAs [Local Education Authorities] the power to make class size determinations based on what will work best for the students/teachers in their district.”

However, others think the ripple effects could be detrimental.

“The other side of the coin is that we’ve got teachers leaving the teaching field because of discipline, overwork. This is only going to make this escalate,” said J.C. Bowman, CEO of Professional Educators of Tennessee.

Bowman said the fear is that county commissions could force school districts to work with fewer teachers and make them teach more students. He said the teachers he has spoken with are not a fan of it.