(a) County boards of education shall provide sufficient personnel, equipment, and facilities as will ensure that each first through sixth grade classroom, or classrooms having two or more grades that include one or more of the first through sixth grades shall not have more than 25 pupils for each teacher of the grade or grades and shall not have more than 20 pupils for each kindergarten teacher per session, unless the state superintendent has excepted a specific classroom upon application therefor by a county board.
(b) County school boards may not maintain a greater number of classrooms having two or more grades that include one or more of the grade levels referred to in this section than were in existence in said county as of January 1, 1983.
(c) The state superintendent is authorized, consistent with sound educational policy, to:
(1) Permit on a statewide basis, in grades four through six, more than 25 pupils per teacher in a classroom for the purposes of instruction in physical education; and
(2) Permit more than 20 pupils per teacher in a specific kindergarten classroom and 25 pupils per teacher in a specific classroom in grades four through six during a school year in the event of extraordinary circumstances as determined by the state superintendent after application by a county board of education.
(d) The state board shall establish guidelines for the exceptions authorized in this section, but in no event shall the superintendent except classrooms having more than three pupils above the pupil-teacher ratio as set forth in this section.
(e) The requirement for approval of an exception to exceed the 20 pupils per kindergarten teacher per session limit or the 25 pupils per teacher limit in grades one through six is waived in schools where the schoolwide pupil-teacher ratio is 25 or less in grades one through six: Provided, That a teacher shall not have more than three pupils above the teacher/pupil ratio as set forth in this section. Any kindergarten teacher who has more than 20 pupils per session and any classroom teacher of grades one through six who has more than 25 pupils, shall be paid additional compensation based on the affected classroom teacher’s average daily salary divided by 20 for kindergarten teachers, or 25 for teachers of grades one through six, for every day times the number of additional pupils enrolled up to the maximum pupils permitted in the teacher’s classroom. All such additional compensation shall be paid from county funds exclusively.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this section to the contrary, commencing with the school year beginning on July 1, 1994, a teacher in grades one, two or three or classrooms having two or more such grade levels, shall not have more than two pupils above the teacher/pupil ratio as set forth in this section: Provided, That commencing with the school year beginning on July 1, 1995, such teacher shall not have more than one pupil above the teacher/pupil ratio as set forth in this section: Provided, however, That commencing with the school year beginning on July 1, 1996, such teacher shall not have any pupils above the teacher/pupil ratio as set forth in this section.
(f) No provision of this section is intended to limit the number of pupils per teacher in a classroom for the purpose of instruction in choral, band or orchestra music.
(g) Each school principal shall assign students equitably among the classroom teachers, taking into consideration reasonable differences due to subject areas and/or grade levels.
(h) The state board shall collect from each county board of education information on class size and the number of pupils per teacher for all classes in grades seven through 12. The state board shall report such information to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability before January 1, of each year.
(i) The West Virginia Department of Education shall survey districts to determine those grade levels, content areas, and geographic locations where class overcrowding is impeding student achievement and report to the Legislature by July 1, 2020 a tailored plan for reducing class overcrowding in such areas.
The study shall include, but is not limited to, an examination of the following issues:
(1) The effect on student learning of limits on the number of pupils per teacher in a classroom in elementary classes and in a middle and high school format in which students have different teachers for different subject matter instruction;
(2) The effect on the equity among teachers in a middle school in which the number of pupils per teacher in a classroom is limited for some teachers and not for others, including the additional pay for certain teachers in whose classrooms the limits are exceeded; and
(3) The effect limits on the number of pupils per teacher in a classroom have on the ability of school systems to offer elective courses in secondary schools.