Houston school board OKs AP, gifted class size increases

PERRY — The Houston County Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday to increase the class sizes of its gifted and Advanced Placement courses in light of budget woes.

The resolution allows the district to add up to seven students per gifted or AP course in Houston County’s middle and high schools during the 2010-11 school year. The move will also open advanced courses to more of the system’s students, said Eric Payne, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. Previously, enrollment in AP courses was capped at 23 students per class.

“We’re trying to even out the playing field,” Payne said. “Instead of 15 in AP and 30 in a regular class, why not have 25 in both?”

Later, as a last-minute addition to the meeting, the board unanimously approved a resolution addressing the June 30 termination of the contract between United Healthcare — which provides insurance to a majority of Houston County’s approximately 2,600 school employees — and The Medical Center of Central Georgia to provide in-network care.

Board Vice Chairman Toby Hill said he has discussed his concerns with local physicians and state Rep. Larry O’Neal.

“This resolution is to highlight the serious nature to employees, that they won’t have access to every hospital in our community,” he said.

The resolution, which urges the two sides to come up with a new agreement, will be sent to United Healthcare,

Medical Center, the State Health Benefit Plan, Gov. Sonny Perdue, members of the Georgia Legislature and the Georgia State Superintendent of Schools.

To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 256-9751.