LHSAA, school officials talk about issues

What started as a meet-and-greet quickly turned into a forum to share ideas and concepts that could unite Louisiana High School Athletic Association member schools.

Eleven coaches and administrators attended Thursday morning’s LHSAA-on-the-geaux session at the LHSAA office.

“This isn’t the largest group we’ve been in front of, but it’s not the smallest, either,” LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson said. “This is a chance for us to meet with you and get you to meet our new staff members. We want to be more of a service organization.”

With that said, Henderson soon launched into a discussion about proposed agenda items developed by the LHSAA’s school relations committee for a January.

Henderson had four points of emphasis:

Making the parish line the attendance zone for all LHSAA schools in each parish;

Using a success factor formula to determine whether schools play up in classification in each sport;

Leaving the decision on whether select and nonselect schools should play together for championship honors to the schools in each class;

Scrapping the current districting system for schools, allow LHSAA member schools to form their own conferences that could include teams from different classifications.

“I like the concept,” Woodlawn Athletic Director Elmo Fernandez said of the conference idea. “But I think the association has to look at where this will bring us to make sure it won’t be like the mess we’re in now.”

Fernandez’s comments refer to the split football playoff plan that the nonselect (traditional public schools) and select (private, some charter, magnet and laboratory schools) are in this fall.

Henderson said had schools seen the small number of select schools in 5A and 4A before the January vote, the viewpoint might have been different.

“I think if we put it to a vote by class, there’s a chance 5A and 4A would come back together,” Henderson said. “I also think there’s a chance you could get 1A together. Now 3A and 2A, I don’t know about.”

Henderson told the group that of the 950-plus the transfers the LHSAA handled in 2012-13, 52 percent of them involved students moving from one school to another within the same parish. Cameron, Orleans and Rapides are currently the only parishes that use that policy for their schools.

The rationale is that a student would get a school of first choice in the ninth grade. Any student who transfers later to another school within the parish would then be required to sit out one year.

Referring specifically to East Baton Rouge Parish and to a case in the Monroe area, Henderson said many transfer students would not be eligible based on such a rule.

Henderson also noted a change in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System’s zones forced a hardship hearing for a student whose home address didn’t change, but the attendance zone did.

Henderson said the proposed attendance zone change also would change two magnet schools currently in the select group, Scotlandville and Shreveport’s C.E. Byrd, to nonselect because students from any portion of the parish would be eligible there.

The success factor, based on a rule used in Indiana, would award one point for winning a regional game, two points for winning a quarterfinal game, three points for winning a semifinal and four points for winning a championship. Teams that earn six or more points in a two-year cycle would move up one class in that sport for two years.

Catholic High track and cross country coach Pete Boudreaux questioned whether that would be fair to a school that had an exceptional two-year cycle and then would return to more of a normal cycle. Henderson said that could be a potential downside for some schools.

Henderson called the current districting process “divisive” and said the LHSAA’s power ratings nullifies the importance of districts. He also said the conference concept would give schools the chance to join with schools that have similar sports programs.