The Lafayette Parish School Board’s meeting room was overflowing with people Wednesday, but the dozens who attended to speak on a controversial proposal to move one of two specialized academies at Lafayette High to Comeaux High will have to wait until the board’s next meeting.
The board faces two options: to move the Lafayette High health academy to Comeaux High or to move the school’s performing arts academy to Comeaux High and make Comeaux High the hub for arts academies.
Comeaux High currently houses the visual arts academy.
Each high school in Lafayette Parish offers a specialized academy that allows students from across the parish to attend if they are accepted. It’s part of the district’s highly popular schools-of-choice program.
If the board opts to move the performing arts academy, about 400 students would be relocated. About 350 students would move to Comeaux High if the health academy is housed there.
Schools Superintendent Donald Aguillard has said moving academies is a way to deal with overcrowding at Lafayette High, one of the largest high schools in the state. But Lafayette High health academy students who were at the board meeting said overcrowding is not an issue for students.
“The only people complaining about overcrowding are people who aren’t on campus,” health academy junior Jada Washington, 16, said. “The health academy has been built over 12 years. It’s the most successful, and it should be a model for other academies. Lafayette High offers things that other schools don’t. We need the rigor in our classes.”
Board members also will consider whether to consolidate gifted programs in Lafayette Parish, closing the gifted program at Paul Breaux Middle and having Edgar Martin and Youngsville Middle house the middle school gifted program.
The high school gifted program, which is offered only at Lafayette High, would be split between Lafayette and Comeaux high schools.
The board is set to vote on the broad changes at its next regular meeting in May. Parents, students and stakeholders who want to learn more about the proposed changes are invited to a meeting at 7 p.m. April 20 at Lafayette High.
In other business Wednesday, the board recognized more than 40 students named Students of the Year at their respective schools. The elementary school Student of the Year is Iris Lormand, of Evangeline Elementary. The middle school Student of the Year is Alyssa Gordon, of Youngsville Middle. Lafayette High School student Caroline Munsell was named high school Student of the Year.
The district’s three Principals of the Year were honored Wednesday: David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy Principal Jeff Debetaz, Scott Middle Principal Candy Kelly and Evangeline Elementary Principal Felise Williams.