Senate Passes Bill Allowing Increased Class Sizes In Tennessee Public Schools

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The Tennessee Conservative [By Adelia Kirchner] –

Yesterday, the Senate passed a bill that would potentially allow school districts to increase maximum class sizes in Tennessee public schools.

During the Senate’s session on March 6th, 2023, an amendment was passed to remove requirements for average class sizes across the state and give local education agencies (LEAs) the ability to apply to the Commissioner of Education for a wavier of the maximum class size requirement on a case-by-case basis.

Sen. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol-District 4) claimed that he introduced Senate Bill 0197 (SB0197)  as a way to give choice back to local school districts and that the bill is not meant to create excessively large classes of students.

However, Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville-District 21) challenged these statements on the Senate floor saying, “I’m having trouble seeing how this doesn’t inevitably lead to larger class sizes.”

Constituents on both sides of the political aisle might agree that allowing for larger class sizes seems questionable considering the subpar academic performance seen across schools in the state’s public education system throughout recent years.

Sen. Yarbro also took issue with the legislation’s removal of class size averages. He believes they exist as statewide standards that districts should be striving for and that removing those standards might actually encourage the larger class sizes we should be looking to avoid.

Currently the maximum and average or “standard” class sizes are outlined as follows: Grades K-3 maximum class size is 25 students, and the average is 20; grades 4-6 maximum class size is 30 students, and the average is 25; grades 7-12 maximum class is 35 students, and the average is 30.

The proposed legislation would not adjust maximums currently in place but would remove the established averages from Tennessee Code and provide a loophole for districts to bypass limits on class size. 

SB0197 was ultimately passed in the Senate by a vote of 26-7 with Democrat Senators Akbari, Campbell, Kyle, Lamar, Oliver, and Yarbro alongside Republican Senator Dawn White maintaining the seven “nay” votes.

Before being transmitted to Governor Lee to be signed into law, the legislation still has to pass on the House side.

The corresponding House Bill, HB0809, is sponsored by Rep. Debra Moody (R-Covington-District 81) and has been assigned to the House K-12 Subcommittee for consideration on March 14th.

If you would like to express your opinion on this bill, please contact members of the subcommittee prior to the bill hearing using the information below.

Kirk Haston (Chair) (R) – – (615) 741-0750

Gino Bulso (R) – – (615) 741-6808

Chris Hurt (R) – – (615) 741-2134

Sam McKenzie (D) – – (615) 741-0768

Bryan Richey (R) – – (615) 741-3560

William Slater (R) – – (615) 741-2534

Robert Stevens (R) – – (615) 741-3830

Todd Warner (R) – – (615) 741-4170

Mark White (R) – – (615) 741-4415

About the Author: Adelia Kirchner is a Tennessee resident and reporter for the Tennessee Conservative. Currently the host of Subtle Rampage Podcast, she has also worked for the South Dakota State Legislature and interned for Senator Bill Hagerty’s Office in Nashville, Tennessee. You can reach Adelia at

One thought on “Senate Passes Bill Allowing Increased Class Sizes In Tennessee Public Schools

  • March 7, 2023 at 8:58 pm

    Again the ignorance of our legislators is on full display. Any law that deliberately leaves a loophole will be exploited and abused. The current numbers relating to class sizes are hefty enough to challenge a teachers ability to teach all his or her students. This change has nothing to do with a better education but it’s partisan politics on display. Follow the money trail.


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