Senator Mayne and Colleagues Visit Utah High Schools

Mayne 2013At the invitation of Senator Karen Mayne, several legislators, Granite School District officials, and a UEA representative visited Granger and Kearns High Schools today.   The objective of today’s visit was to observe the learning environment in these schools, identify areas for improvement, and work on solutions.

Those in attendance today were Senator Mayne, Senator Gene Davis, Senator Howard Stephenson, Senator Aaron Osmond, Representative Greg Hughes, Granite School District Superintendent Martin Bates, Granite School District Assistant Superintendent Mike Fraser, and UEA representative Kory Holdaway.

Channel 13 and Channel 2 reported details.  Legislators, school officials, and students were interviewed.

Karen Morgan named Legislative Children’s Champion

Senator Karen Morgan will be honored at the 2012 Children’s Champions Luncheon as a Legislative Children’s Champion.  Senator Morgan is being recognized for her legacy on capitol hill of working to  improve education outcomes for Utah’s kids.

The luncheon will take place on Thursday, September 1 from noon to 1:30 pm at Little America.  For more information,  call 801-364-1182.

House panel kills bill that would cap classroom sizes

From the Salt Lake Tribune
by Robert Gehrke

A bid to shrink class sizes for kindergarten through third grade was derailed Wednesday after a House committee killed the measure, arguing it would hurt school districts.

“It’s a good program, but it’s an unfunded mandate,” said Rep. Wayne Harper, R-West Jordan, “and in the future they’ll be back here asking us for money or there will be a multitude of problems.”

SB31 sought to cap class sizes for kindergarten through third grade, phasing the caps in over four years. Kindergarten classes would be capped at 20 students, first and second grade at 22 each, and third grade at 24.

Sen. Karen Morgan, D-Cottonwood Heights, said the current class size in the early grades is 27 per classroom, although many have more than 30 pupils.

“It’s very difficult for a child to receive the individual attention they need in such circumstances,” she said. “With that many children, it often becomes a situation of crowd control versus learning.”

For the whole story, click here.

Senator Karen Morgan Responds to State School Board’s Withdrawal of Support for SB 31 – K-3 Class Size Caps


For more information, contact:
Emily Bingham Hollingshead
Communications Director, Utah Senate Democrats

Senator Morgan Issues Response to State School Board’s Withdrawal of Support for SB 31 – K-3 Class Size Caps
SALT LAKE CITY –  Senator Karen Morgan issued the following response today in upon hearing of the State School Board’s withdrawal of support for SB31 K-3 Class Size Caps:
“It is extremely unfortunate and disappointing that the State School Board and State Office of Education have backed off of their support for SB 31, a bill I am sponsoring this legislative session to cap class sizes in Kindergarten through Grade Three.  They state that the bill is “problematic.”  They claim it would be impossible to cap class sizes without additional funding from the legislature.  Their lack of understanding of the state public education budget is what’s problematic.
Additional funding in the amount of $3.2 million dollars will be provided for this bill through the WPU increase to the “above the line” budget items which the Education Appropriations Committee has prioritized.  The class size reduction line item is “above the line”; therefore, it will be increased from the current appropriation of $103,538,700 to $106,200,000.
Utah has the largest class sizes in the nation.  The average pupil-teacher ratio in K-3 classes is 1 to 27.  Many K-3 classes have more than 30 students enrolled.  This is unacceptable and must change.  It’s time for the State Board of Education to be accountable for lowering class sizes.  This is in the best interest of the children of Utah.  SB 31 requires schools to enact those caps, or they will not receive class size reduction dollars.  SB 31 insists on accountability for the dollars they receive.  This is the fiscally responsible thing to do.  I urge their reconsideration.”
For more information or interview requests, please contact Emily Hollingshead at 435-590-9961 or

Bill could mean donations to elementary schools

From the Salt Lake Tribune
by Lisa Schenker

Utahns might soon be able to give money to elementary schools when they file their income tax returns, if a bill that gained initial Senate approval Tuesday becomes law.

SB59 would allow Utahns the option, when filing their income tax returns, of designating elementary schools to receive contributions in the amounts of their choosing. The school principal would then, in consultation with the school community council or charter school board, decide how to spend the money.

Bill sponsor Sen. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake City, said the change would allow people to put more money in their local schools, or any elementary school.

Click here to read the rest of the story

Utah Senate passes bill to lower class size

From the Salt Lake Tribune
by Lisa Schencker

The Senate passed a bill Wednesday to lower class sizes for young children, despite arguments from some that it could hurt schools because of the cost.

SB31 would cap class sizes at 20 students in kindergarten and at 22 students in first, second and third grades. Or, it would require teachers’ aides, known as paraprofessionals, in larger classes.

“As we all know, the early grades are critical years in a child’s education,” said bill sponsor Sen. Karen Morgan, D-Cottonwood Heights. “These are the years a child learns foundational math and reading skills that will determine their future success.”

A number of lawmakers also praised the bill because it would require schools to meet the new caps in order to continue receiving millions of dollars a year that have long been intended for class size reduction. A 2007 legislative audit showed that $460 million meant to make class sizes smaller in Utah 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.

Click here to read the rest of the story.


Breaking News! Class Size Reduction Bill passes the Senate

SALT LAKE CITY – Senator Karen Morgan’s bill to reduce classroom sizes in the lower grades passed the Utah Senate today.  The bill would put caps on class sizes – 20 students in kindergarten and at 22 students in first, second and third grades. Or, it would require teachers’ aides, known as paraprofessionals, in larger classes.   The bill also includes measures to hold schools accountable.  In order to continue to receive state money that’s long been distributed for class size reductions, schools would have to meet the new caps.

“Kindergarten through third grade is a critical time in a child’s education,” Morgan, D-Cottonwood Heights, told senators. “That is the time they need more one-on-one individualized attention.”

The bill passed on a 19 – 9 vote, with all Democrats voting in favor of the measure.

How did your Senator vote?

Yeas – 19

Adams, J. S. Davis, G. Jones, P. Knudson, P. Mayne, K.
McAdams, B. Morgan, K. Niederhauser, W. Okerlund, R. Osmond, A.
Reid, S. Robles, L. Romero, R. Stephenson, H. Stevenson, J.
Valentine, J. Van Tassell, K. Waddoups, M. Weiler, T.

Nays – 9

Anderson, C. Bramble, C. Christensen, A. Dayton, M. Hinkins, D.
Jenkins, S. Madsen, M. Thatcher, D. Urquhart, S.

Absent or not voting – 1

Hillyard, L.



Senator Morgan aims to impose smaller class sizes in K-3 classrooms

From the Daily Herald
by Billy Hesterman

“It is just common sense that fewer students in a classroom allow for more one-on-one time in a classroom,” Morgan said. “These little ones need help learning the very basics of reading and math if they are going to be successful throughout the rest of their school years.”

Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, gave a strong endorsement to the bill. While many Republicans voted in favor of the bill but noted they still are deciding on their vote for final passage, Waddoups declared that he supports the plan because it is an issue that is important to his constituents.

To read the entire story, click here.


Senator Karen Morgan’s bill to reduce Utah class sizes advances

From the Salt Lake Tribune
by Lisa Schencker

Despite some debate and disagreement, lawmakers advanced a bill Thursday to reduce class sizes in grades K-3.

The Senate approved Sen. Karen Morgan’s SB31 by 18-9 on second reading on Thursday, meaning the Senate must now pass it one more time before it moves to the House. The bill would cap class sizes at 20 students in kindergarten and at 22 students in first, second and third grades. Or, it would require teachers’ aides, known as paraprofessionals, in larger classes.

Before lawmakers approved the bill, Morgan amended it to raise the caps slightly, reducing its cost to $3.6 million. Lawmakers also amended the bill to specify that in order to continue to receive state money that’s long been distributed for class size reductions, schools would have to meet the new caps.

“Kindergarten through third grade is a critical time in a child’s education,” Morgan, D-Cottonwood Heights, told senators. “That is the time they need more one-on-one individualized attention.”

To read the rest of the story, click here


Utah legislators say yes to proposal to shrink class sizes

The Salt Lake Tribune

Parents would see fewer students in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms under a proposed bill that earned preliminary approval Monday from the Senate Education Committee.

SB31, which the committee unanimously passed on to the full Senate, would limit the number of students in academic classes to 18 in kindergarten, 20 in first grade, 22 in second grade and 24 in third grade. But schools unable to meet the requirement, possibly due to limited classrooms, could instead hire teachers aides, known as paraprofessionals.

Sen. Karen Morgan, the Cottonwood Heights Democrat who is sponsoring the bill, said she gets calls from parents every fall who are shocked to find their child’s kindergarten class has upward of 30 students.

“The most critical time to have a smaller class size is in those early grades, where children are building a foundation for learning,” she told the committee, noting that 36 states limit class sizes. “We should not be one of the 14 states plus the District of Columbia that doesn’t have some kind of a cap on enrollment.”

But she acknowledged it will be challenging to find the ongoing funds needed to hire more teachers. The cost of meeting the smaller class sizes has not yet been calculated. This year, the Davis School District spent $2.5 million, using a property-tax hike, to cover a one-student reduction in average K-3 class sizes.

Peter Cannon, a member of the Davis school board, questioned whether the bill takes flexibility away from school districts. Cannon, who was not speaking on behalf of the Davis board, said the money might be better spent on improving teacher quality through a performance-pay system.

“We in the school districts know how to help our students,” Cannon said. “We don’t need to be told to help our students the way every other school district does.”

The state’s median class sizes are 22 for kindergarten, 23 for first grade, 24 for second grade and 25 for third grade, according to the State Office of Education.

During the same meeting, the committee also passed SB39, which would give the governor greater power in hiring and firing the state’s commissioner of higher education and the president of the Utah College of Applied Technology.

“The aim of this is to try to allow the governor to encourage coordination between the three silos of education,” said sponsor Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, referring to higher education, the applied technology colleges and public education.

The State Board of Regents would still select the state’s higher-ed commissioner, and the UCAT board of trustees would still choose a president. But their selections would have to be approved by the governor and the Senate. The governor could fire either appointee after consulting with the respective board.

Reid said Gov. Gary Herbert supports the bill.