Over the last year, the creation of Southside High School has been a big win for some communities in Lafayette parish, but it has also drawn student-athletes away from Comeaux High School. That has caused many in the Spartans community to worry about the future of their sports teams.
It’s been nearly two decades since the Lafayette Parish School System had redrawn the lines for where students go to high school. But when those lines were reset this past year to accommodate the new Southside High School, the biggest shake-up occurred at Comeaux High which lost nearly 600 students who played on sports teams for the Spartans.
"It’s inevitable that they’re going to have some loss of students but that was known, says Mike Hefner, chief demographer for demographic planning and services at LPSS. "One of my things I was trying to keep intact was the high school athletic classification."
Comeaux plays in Class 5A alongside Lafayette High School which it will now be pulling some students from due to the rezoning. The problem lies with exactly how many. The Spartans didn’t have enough students to field a freshman baseball team this season and had less than a third of the usual amount try out for wrestling.
Perhaps the biggest effect redistricting has had at Comeaux has been seen and felt on the football field, where the average freshman class is normally about 80 kids. This past school year that number was only 20.
Joe Craig, Lafayette Parish Schools System’s Chief Administrator and former Comeaux principal, says he’s had to deal with many in the Comeaux High Community who are upset over the depletion of students from the Spartans’ sports teams.
"The priority wasn’t necessarily rezoning for athletics," explains Craig. "The priority was to equalize the size of the high schools across the district so that we could optimize our transportation and send out the educational and instructional resources equally to all schools."
Last school year, Comeaux had more than 2,000 students in attendance. This year that number dropped to less than 1600 and in two years that number is expected to get down to roughly 1,100. Still, Hefner doesn’t expect Comeaux to drop down out of Class 5A.
"I get a lot of data when I work with school districts on their school attendance plans, says Hefner. "One thing I never get from them cause they don’t collect that data is who is an athlete and who wants to be an athlete.