PLEASANTON -- Everyone wants to reduce class sizes for the district's youngest students. The only questions are: How quickly can it be done? And at what cost?

Those questions were explored by parents, teachers and trustees at a school board meeting Tuesday night. Three options for reducing class sizes in kindergarten to third grade were presented.

"Having smaller sizes and significantly more one-on-one time with individual teachers can have a profound impact on a child's reading ability," school board member Chris Grant said. "The challenge, obviously, is tied to economics and available budgets."

The current student-teacher ratio is 30-1; the three alternatives focused on how best to reduce the ratio to 24-1.

The first option is the most aggressive, lowering all class sizes to 24 students by 2018 and costing about $10.8 million.

The second option is the least expensive, costing a little more than $10 million. It calls for reducing the number of first-grade students in each class from 30 to 25 in the first year, while keeping kindergarten and second and third grades at 30 students, then gradually reducing the class size in each grade until there are 24 students in a class in 2019.

The third alternative moves the fastest and, thus, is the most costly. It calls for reducing the ratio to 24-1 by 2017 and would cost nearly $12.4 million by 2019.

The school board on Tuesday asked staff members to continue studying the issue in more detail, Grant said.

"I asked for information about the effects of reducing class size for kindergarten next year, as well," he said.

The district will continue to explore the issue for the next few months and likely will wait until state budget figures are released in February, said school board member Joan Laursen.

"That's when we'll decide what, if any, changes we'll make to programs," she said. "Class size reduction is very important, but it's not the only thing. It's all part of a large puzzle."

Though Pleasanton is in better shape than other districts around the state, it still is forced to "carve out" local funds, Laursen said.

"We made it through the past couple of years fiscally only because we had significant concessions from employees," she said.

Lowering class sizes for ninth-grade students taking English and mathematics also is a goal, Grant said.

"Those are important because it's a transition year into high school and ninth-grade English and math get significantly more difficult," he said. "It's critically important that kids transition well into that."

Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.