Will we face any penalties for exceeding class size requirements if our classes have to expand to accommodate displaced students?

By Phil Killion|November 1, 2017||

The maximum enrollment for a class, grade, and school is a local decision and is determined by school district board policy. Local fire regulations (i.e., maximum occupancy rules) are also a factor. While there is nothing in the Education Code (EC) that establishes absolute limits on class or school size, the EC does prescribe that if certain limits are exceeded in grades kindergarten through eight, a school district’s funding may be affected. The following table details the class size calculations that affect funding:

TopicK–8 Class Size Penalty (CSP)K–3 Grade-Span Adjustment (GSA)
ApplicabilityApplies to all elementary or unified district schools where the district ADA is 101 or more. Necessary small elementary schools are excluded from the reporting requirements.Applies to all elementary or unified district schools, unless the district has collectively bargained an alternative.
RequirementPursuant to EC sections 41376 and 41378:


Individual class requirement: Average for class not to exceed:
• 33 in kindergarten
• 32 in grades 1 through 3

Districtwide requirements: Average of all individual classes not to exceed:
• 31 in kindergarten
• 30 in grades 1 through 3


For grades four through eight, in the current fiscal year, average number of students per teacher not to exceed the greater of 29.9 (i.e., the statewide average number of students per teacher in 1964) or the district’s average number of students per teacher in 1964.
Pursuant to EC Section 42238.02(d)(3)(D), upon full implementation of the local control funding formula (LCFF), maintain at each school site an average K–3 class enrollment of 24 or less.

During LCFF phase-in, a school district must make annual progress toward maintaining an average K–3 class enrollment of 24 or less at each school site pursuant to EC Section 42238.02(d)(3)(B) and the calculations set forth in Title 5 California Code of Regulations sections 15498–15498.3.
Penalty/Condition of FundingGenerally, the penalty is equal to the loss of all funding for ADA above 31 in kindergarten classes, above 30 in first through third grade classes, and above the district’s applicable average for grades four through eight. The CSP data is processed and penalties applied, if applicable, at the P-2 or subsequent Principal Apportionment certifications.Districts that do not meet the required K-3 average class enrollment will not receive a 10.4 percent GSA applied to the LCFF base grant funding; this adjustment also impacts supplemental and concentration grant funding, where applicable. Compliance with the K–3 GSA requirement is evaluated through the district’s annual audit.
WaiverMay be waived by the State Board of Education (SBE). See the SBE K-3 and 4-8 waiver policies for more information.May not be waived by SBE or SSPI pursuant to EC Section 42238.02(d)(3)(E).
Additional Information on class sizesClass Size PenaltiesFrequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Additional questions may be directed to the following CDE staff:

  • For questions specific to the funding penalty associated with grades K-8 CSP or the financial impacts of a K-3 GSA audit finding on a district’s LCFF entitlement:

Principal Apportionment Section, PASE@cde.ca.gov

  • For questions specific to the K-3 GSA requirements and regulations:

Julie Briggs, JBriggs@cde.ca.gov

  • For questions specific to filing a K-8 CSP waiver with the SBE:

Janet Finley, jfinley@cde.ca.gov

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