Lawmaker Wants To Cap Class Sizes Statewide
A new bill introduced in the state Assembly would cap class sizes in schools throughout the state.
Under legislation (A.7056) proposed by Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, D-New York City, schools outside of New York City would be limited to 20 children in kindergarten through third grade classrooms, 23 children in fourth through eighth grade classrooms, 25 students in high school classes and 40 students in gym and performance classes.
There are no co-sponsors yet for Solages’ bill nor is there a companion bill in the Senate. But the bill is similar to legislation that has taken effect in New York City after its passage near the end of the 2022 state legislative session and signing by Gov. Kathy Hochul in September. The New York City bill passed 147-2 in the state Assembly with approval from both Assemblyman Andrew Goodell and Assemblyman Joe Giglio.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has been critical of the class size bill, claiming it will cost $1.3 billion for New York City schools to meet the targets.
“But, you know, the law is the law and we’re going to function and it is an unfunded — unfunded mandate,” Adams said during a September news conference, according to the New York Post. “And I’m hoping that those lawmakers, when they go back to Albany, they will look at how do we fund this, this dollar amount.”
Class sizes are the same as proposed by Solages for use statewide with New York City’s schools expected to be in compliance with the new requirements when schools open in September 2028. While starting the process later Solages’ bill states schools outside New York City must meet the new targets by the start of the 2028-29 school year. Each year, schools would have to reduce the number of classrooms that don’t meet the class size targets by 20% until, within five years, all classrooms meet the target size.
All school districts would have to work with their various unions on a class size reduction plan that would be submitted to the state Education Commissioner. That plan would include any exemptions to the class size targets, including space, over-enrolled students, staff shortages or lack of money. Those exemptions would have to be approved by the district superintendent nad president of each union unit, classroom staff and building administrators. If everyone involved can’t agree the issue would be decided by an arbitrator.
Districts’ class size reduction plans would also have to show how they will meet the state’s target class size by building more classrooms or schools or placing more than one teacher in a classroom.
No one really knows how much Solages’ bill would cost because schools aren’t required to measure class sizes in reports to the state Education Department. Solages’ bill changes that by requiring the state Education Department to post each district’s student enrollment and the projected student enrollment for each grade level, actual class sizes for the current school year and for upcoming school years by grade level, the annual capital plan for school construction and leasing to show how many classrooms are being added each year as well as how school capacity is aligned to class size targets.