As if the LHSAA doesn’t have enough big fish to fry with its new executive director now just weeks away from officially taking over, now its mired in this redistricting confusion.
Most of the first proposed redistricting plan seems to make sense. Unfortunately, some of it is a mess without any clear-cut solutions.
I wish I was smart enough to simply figure it all out and send an all-inclusive plan to Baton Rouge for ratification, but that’s not the case.
Before I offer up a few thoughts about some of the district issues involving Acadiana area schools, I think it’s time for a refresher course on basic principles and priorities.
First of all, the true solution is to go back to four classifications.
So if your school is agonizing over increased travel expenses a new district would give you, I sympathize with you … only if you support the move back to four classes.
If you don’t, it’s time to look in the mirror at your own worst enemy. Just about all of the travel issues would be solved by going back to four classes.
The next point is that competition shouldn’t be an issue.
Much like the principle that student-athletes shouldn’t transfer to a new school for athletic reasons, schools shouldn’t support non-geographically sound plans to avoid certain schools based on talent.
Obviously, that may not actually be the argument a school is making, but that’s often the motive behind it.
Another factor to consider while seeking solutions for this redistricting nightmare is that in this rare case, football shouldn’t be anywhere near the top of the priority list.
Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t come from the “I hate football because it gets all the attention” school. Football is king and it should be.
It’s simply that the travel issues that we’re mostly referring to happen when girls basketball teams are traveling over an hour to play a district game on a Tuesday night, not when a football team travels to that same site on a Friday night once every two years.
So push football to the back of the bus this one time.
Remember folks, it should be more important to limit travel and keep kids in school for more hours than how good the gridiron competition is or how difficult it is to schedule non-district football games.
With that said, let’s delve into a few of these disjointed districts.
Class 5A seems fine. It’s in 4A and 3A where the problems arise.
In 4A, the first proposal had Crowley and Rayne going back to the Lake Charles area with DeRidder, Leesville, LaGrange and Washington-Marion.
Just the thought of traveling from Rayne to Leesville is sickening. Brutal trip. Should never taken place for a district game.
And just think, going back to four classes would eliminate ridiculous trips like that.
That leaves 11 teams left to divide up between District 4 and 5. There is no perfect way to do it.
The first proposal had District 4 consisting of Beau Chene, Carencro, Northside, Opelousas, St. Thomas More and Teurlings Catholic.
District 5 would be Abbeville, Breaux Bridge, Cecilia, St. Martinville and Westgate.
There’s nothing anywhere near as bad as Rayne to Leesville here, so any way they go is acceptable.
It’s all about which groups you want to keep together. Geographically and highway access-wise, Beau Chene, Carencro, Northside, Opelousas, Teurlings and possibly even Cecilia should be together along I-10/I-49.
On the other hand, St. Thomas More, Abbeville, Westgate and St. Martinville seemingly make sense as partners along Highway 90.
Breaux Bridge and Cecilia aren’t perfect fits, and could easily go either way.
I’d probably just leave it as it is, except move STM to District 5.
Then there’s the mess in 3A.
The first proposal has three Vermilion Parish schools – Erath, North Vermilion and Kaplan – going to Lake Charles with Iowa, Jennings, St. Louis and Westlake.
Not unprecedented, but also not the best situation.
By the way, that leaves a brutal eight-team District 5 with Church Point, Eunice, Iota, Northwest, Pine Prairie, Port Barre, South Beauregard and Ville Platte.
One alternate proposal will call for three five-team districts.
That would allow for a true Lake Charles area group with Jennings, Iowa, St. Louis, Westlake and South Beauregard in one district.
An Acadia-Vermilion flavor with Erath, Kaplan, North Vermilion, Iota and Church Point in the middle and Eunice, Northwest, Pine Prairie, Port Barre and Ville Platte in the northern one.
Travel would be tremendously more reasonable that way. Football scheduling issues shouldn’t outweigh that.
With the trend toward bigger districts, for whatever reason, it’s more likely that it’ll end up with a different 8-7 alignment.
In that plan, District 4 would include the four Lake Charles area schools with Eunice, Iota and South Beauregard, while District 5 would combine the three Vermilion schools with the St. Landry and Evangeline schools.
Either way, South Beauregard should go back to Lake Charles.
Again folks, all of this would be solved with a move back to four classes.
Class 2A is ugly as well. Consider these trips, Mamou and Vinton in the same district, and Sacred Heart of Ville Platte in the same district as Many.
Check out those trips on a map. That’s just crazy.
It’s high time for some priorities to be reevaluated in a hurry.