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Class Size

Download “Making Smaller Class Size Happen!” (PDF)

Note on COVID-19

While class size is always important for student learning, the Covid-19 crisis brings forth major health and safety concerns linked to class size. The class size mandates we negotiated in our new contract were for ‘normal times.’ Having 28 students in a classroom under ‘normal’ circumstances is one thing; during the pandemic it would pose a major threat to the health of educators, students and their families. CTU is in negotiations with CPS this summer fighting for the many things we need for a safe re-opening of schools to be possible. Front and center among our many demands is classes that are small enough to allow for social distancing in the classroom.

Take Action Now

Email the Class Size Investigatory Council
Class Size Committee


Smaller classes are essential for student learning. They need opportunities for one-on-one attention and small group instruction as well as whole class lessons. While small classes are important for all students, research has shown that class size makes an even greater difference for students who are behind academically.

Despite the Amendatory Act of 1995 which eliminated mandatory bargaining on class size and other key issues, we fought really hard for smaller classes during our negotiations and strike last fall.

What we won

  • Five times as much money for smaller class sizes
  • Enforceable directives vs. recommendations for resolving class size issues
  • Priority for help in our the most resource-deprived schools and communities (Tier 1 Schools where 60% or more of students live in lowest SES communities)
  • Independent tiebreaker to resolve tied votes in Class Size Council
  • Automatic investigation of extreme overcrowding without the need for a referral to be filed
  • Timeframes to ensure rapid investigation of oversized classes
  • Class Size Council directs the disbursement of funds to provide relief
  • No forced split-grade classes to ‘solve’ size problems
  • More frequent and timely data to make informed decisions

Some potential remedies

  • Providing funds for an additional full or half-time teacher
  • Adding a Teacher Assistant to a classroom for a full or part-day
  • Redistributing students to ensure a balanced load for teachers of the same grade or subject
  • Paying for extra prep time for teachers who have to grade and prepare for oversized classes
  • Offering a ‘sixth class’ or overtime position in high schools
  • Other creative solutions as determined by the Council with input from the affected parties

WHO makes the decision and HOW it’s made

We now have a Joint Class Size Assessment Council with six Board-appointed members and six retired educators appointed by the CTU.

The Council investigators (1 Union, 1 Board) will begin investigations within three days of learning of a problem and will meet with the delegate, principal and affected teachers. Utilizing input from these parties, they will make a recommendation within five days to the full Class Size Council. The principal then has three days, or until the next Council meeting, to object, after which, the Council will take a binding vote on the recommendation of its investigators. A neutral tiebreaker will resolve any disputes.

Your role as a member educator

Even though we have an auto trigger for the severely oversized classes, we need your voice and input. Also, if you have classes between the recommended numbers and the severe numbers, please fill out our new referral online to let us know. We want to hear from you. Your voice is essential to make this work.

Help us help our students! Email us at classsize@ctulocal1.org.

Class Size Limits

Download Class Size Limits Table (PDF)

Grade Level Class Size Limits Oversized
Must refer to Class Size Council (by Delegate, LSC, Teacher, etc.)
Automatic Trigger for
Class Size Investigation
K-3* 28 29-31 32
4-8* 31 32-34 35
9-12* 28 29-31 32
Art 31 32-35 Elementary
32-37 High School
35+ Elementary
37+ High School**
Music 34 35-37 Elementary
35-40 High School
38+ Elementary
41+ High School**
PE 40 41-43 Elementary
41-46 High School
44+ Elementary
47+ High School**
Shop/Lab, Drafting # of Available Workstations (AWS) # of AWS +3 Elementary
# of AWS +6 High School
# of AWS +4 or More Elementary
# of AWS +7 or More High School**

* Bilingual classes are capped at no more than 90% of these limits
** Or where teacher load is oversized by 14