Federal plan would shift Eunice/Northwest High zones

The St. Landry Parish public school reorganization plan proposed by a court-appointed Bi-Racial Committee and endorsed by the U.S. Department of Justice changes Eunice High School’s attendance zone but leaves elementary school lines untouched.

The proposal is just that and nothing more at this point.

Superintendent Michael Nassif prefaced Wednesday afternoon’s unveiling of the plan by reminding the packed house that it is neither firm nor final.

Board members did not discuss the proposal, instead voting to go into closed session almost before Board Attorney Gerard Caswell could get the recommendation out of his mouth.

Eunice High’s student population would shift from 36% black-62% white to 48% black-52% white under the federal proposal.

That would be accomplished by adjusting the Eunice High/Northwest High attendance zone to assign more white students to Northwest, which is currently 69% black.

The eastern line of Eunice High’s attendance zone touches the western line of Northwest High’s zone.

Eunice High’s student body would consist of 274 black students and 298 white students, compared to 241 and 420 this school year.

The government notes those numbers do not include any Acadia Parish residents who might attend Eunice High.

Eunice-area School Board members Josie Frank, Roger Young and Harry Fruge were not available to comment before press time because the board went immediately into executive session.

Nassif did all he could to caution those in attendance against assumptions that everything in the report will turn out to be gospel.

“The board can accept it, modify it, or reject it and draft our own,” Nassif reiterated.

Whatever route the board takes, it must complete action within the 120-day limit set by U.S. District Judge Tucker Melancon.

The clock started Wednesday.

The proposal would also amend attendance zones of Opelousas, Port Barre and Beau Chene High Schools.

Elementary schools elsewhere in the parish are heavily impacted.

Morrow, Palmetto and Melvillve Elementary schools will consolidated into one K-8 school located at North Central High School.

North Central High School students will be re-assigned to Port Barre High and Northwest High.

Washington, Plaisance and Grand Prairie Elementary Schools will be consolidated at the following locations: K-4 at Washington, 5-6 at Plaisance, and 7-8 at Grand Prairie.

Grand Coteau and Arnaudville Elementary Schools would be paired, with K-4 at Grand Coteau and 5-8 at Arnaudville.

Cankton and Sunset would pair, with K-3 at Cankton and 5-8 at Sunset.

New elementary school construction is proposed by 2011 in the Washington/Plaisance/Grand Prairie area and the area east of I-49 and southwest of Opelousas currently in the Creswell zone and Creswell Elementary closed.

Long term, Port Barre Hiigh and the consolidated Grand Coteau/Arnaudville Elementary would be replaced by new facilities.

North Central High would close with its students dispersed to Port Barre High and Northwest High.

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