Committee approves high school district plans

There were no major confrontations and only a couple of disagreements as the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s executive committee approved a districting plan for 2013-14 and 2014-15.

A handful of classification appeals regarding individual sports were also handled during Wednesday’s meeting held at the LHSAA office.

The biggest news came in Class 3A where LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson’s final plan changed the fortunes of four teams: John Curtis, St. Charles Catholic, Brusly High and Port Allen High.

All four were originally placed together in a Baton Rouge/River Parish area district. The teams were divided into other districts in the final plan approved by the committee.

Curtis and St. Charles were moved into New Orleans-based 11-3A with De La Salle, Lusher Charter, Eleanor McMain and three all-girls schools: Academy of Sacred Heart, Louise McGehee and Xavier Prep.

Meanwhile, Brusly and Port Allen were placed in a revamped District 7-3A with Baker, Glen Oaks, Parkview Baptist, University High and West Feliciana. The two West Baton Rouge schools return to a Baton Rouge-based district for the first time in six years.

“I guess it is what we had hoped would happen,” Brusly Principal Walt Lemoine said. “I didn’t realize it, but it’s been six years since we’ve been in a Baton Rouge district. We feel like that’s where we belong. It should be a good competitive district. We’ve got some schools much like ourselves, and then some others that are also powerhouses, so there will be challenges.”

John Curtis had no representative at the meeting. St. Charles argued against its placement in a New Orleans league, asking instead to be placed in a new 9-3A that includes two schools from the old 7-3A, Donaldsonville High and E.D. White Catholic.

LHSAA President Brent Vidrine, of Monroe’s Neville High, credited the smooth nature of the third and final classification meeting to a new process that allowed schools to voice their concerns and approval of districting plans in writing. The final plans will be posted on the LHSAA’s website, on Thursday, said Executive Director Kenny Henderson.

“Everything was thought out,” Vidrine said. “It was a process that took place that gave everybody a chance to respond. The goal was to try and get more schools to respond to what they liked.

“Before, we’d only hear from schools who didn’t like something. This way, we got a better chance to hear what schools did and didn’t like. There were a few changes that were made for the betterment of the schools. They were logical.”

Basic districts for Class C and Class B were approved in a span of three minutes without debate.

Class 1A offered the first real debate with north and central Louisiana schools in District 3-1A opposing the addition of Logansport. Their alternate plan had Ringgold moving from District 1-1A to 3-1A and Logansport going back to 3-1A from 1-1A. A motion to make Ringgold-Logansport swap, failed by a 12-10 vote, setting the stage for Henderson’s final plan to be approved.

Before the vote on 2A districts, Henderson said the LHSAA learned Tuesday that New Orleans-based L.B. Landry is set to consolidated with 4A O. Perry Walker next year.

That change alleviated concerns about too many teams for New Orleans’ 9-2A and 10-2A, which will combine for football only.

St. James, which requested a possible move to Baton Rouge’s 6-2A, was shifted to a River Parish-based 10-2A that also includes Riverside Academy. A request to break Northeast High and East Feliciana High away from 6-2A to form a new league with St. Helena Central, of 7-2A, was rejected, leaving the teams in their previous districts.

In Class 4A, Belle Chasse asked the committee to be placed in a bayou or northshore-based district. Instead, the Plaquemines Parish school was left in a New Orleans area league.

There was no debate on the revised 5A districts posted at the second meeting.

One boys soccer of change had West Feliciana and Dunham swapping district spots, based on geography.

Appeals, etc.

Before the 1 p.m. classification meeting several schools came before the committee with appeals for different sports. All the schools had missed the deadline to declare to play up or to play a particular sport.

The committee approved Holy Cross-New Orleans’ request to wrestle up to Division I for the next two years.

North Caddo, Mansfield and Vinton all requested to play up a division in volleyball to alleviate travel concerns and those appeals were granted.

However, the executive committee rejected New Orleans’ Lake Area New Tech’s request to be allowed to play varsity football after missing the application deadline. The committee voted to allow the Class 3A school to play junior varsity football for the next two years.