The Iberville Parish School Board could give high school students the freedom to attend any school they want in the district, regardless of where they live, through the implementation of an open enrollment policy.
Details regarding exactly how it would work are scant, but the board on Monday is scheduled to hear three proposals from schools Superintendent Arthur Joffrion.
The board will not vote on an option at Monday's meeting, but the discussion will likely indicate whether the fledgling idea will move forward.
"They are doing this in other districts so we just want some information right now," board President Polly Higdon said. "The board may decide not to move forward with any of the plans. Or the board may direct him to come up with another plan."
Higdon said the board is leaning heavily on Joffrion's knowledge about open enrollment options through his previous administrative roles with the Rapides Parish School District prior to coming to Iberville Parish last year.
Joffrion said that in the Rapides district, with some 24,000 students and 11 high schools, the open enrollment option appealed to families for varying reasons.
"There was only a small percentage of students that opted for open enrollment — about 300 kids," he said. "Some did it for academic reasons and others for extracurricular activities like drama, band and participation in certain athletic programs."
Iberville Parish has a significantly lower student count and only three designated high schools: East Iberville High, Plaquemine High and White Castle High.
According to an outline of proposed ideas posted to the board's online meeting agenda, students entering grades seven through 12 would be allowed to apply for open enrollment.
To be eligible, students can have no more than one out-of-school suspension, no expulsions, passing grades in all their courses for the previous semester, no more than 10 excused absences and they can't be "fifth-year" high school students.
The posted outline doesn't go into comprehensive detail about Joffrion's three proposed options, but it does offer some insight into his thinking.
Any open enrollment options wouldn't affect the current lottery entry system used for the district's specialized academy programs. But seventh- through 12th-grade academy students who opt for open enrollment would get to choose the campus where their academic scores and athletic eligibility is routed.
Currently, academy students' scores on state standardize tests and participation in extracurricular activities filters back to the schools in their designated attendance zones.
One of the plans Joffrion will present would give the open enrollment option only to high school students on the west side of the district. That would exclude students who live in the St. Gabriel area.
As for transportation, one option places the burden of getting students to the high school of their choice onto their parents, meaning the district would not provide transportation to those kids.
Joffrion points out in the outline that the board could incur additional costs if the district provides transportation to students opting not to attend the high schools in their attendance/transportation zones. But he also notes the district does have certified, pre-existing routes for the academy programs that could absorb open enrollment students.
"I'm sure we're going to have a lot of discussions about this," Higdon said. "It's not that simple."
The School Board meeting is at 6 p.m. Monday at the district offices in Plaquemine.
Editor's note: This story was changed after publication to correct the number of students in school in Rapides Parish.