After a lengthy discussion, the Williamsport Area School Board voted to keep this year's graduation ceremony inside at Tuesday's meeting.
The decision was finalized after a motion failed 4-3 to move the ceremony outside into the stadium. Board member Jane Penman abstained from voting.
Discussion on the topic began following public comments by Kim Shultz and Peggy Applegate, both mothers of graduating seniors, asking the board to reconsider holding graduation in the auditorium.
"By holding it inside you are limiting who can come," Shultz said.
Each senior would be given four tickets to graduation, which would cause some to have to make a decision on which family members would see the event live - other designated areas in the high school with a live video feed are available for anyone not given a ticket.
The decision can be difficult for those who come from a family larger than four members, Applegate said.
"My daughter comes from a split family where there's two moms and two dads," she said.
She said since some students don't go to college, high school graduation is a special time for families as it may be their only one.
Shultz said the district could look at the weather at the beginning of the week and make a decision at that point, as an inside ceremony would be necessary with bad weather.
Michael Reed, high school principal, said there are pros and cons to both venues but called the auditorium the most "cost-effective" option.
He explained in order to hold the ceremony outside the district must rent equipment and there are expenses due to extra stadium maintenance. Reed estimated the cost for a stadium ceremony at about $10,000.
Shultz said she knew plenty of individuals who could help with setup.
"I know a lot of people who are willing to volunteer," she said.
Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Kelley said the district would be unable to accept that help as prohibited by union guidelines.
Board member Jay Shultz said "too many people are going to be watching on video," if graduation is held in the auditorium. He said the decision has to come down to what is best for the community.
"At the end of the day it's about the community," he said.
Board member Jerene Milliken said while outside ceremonies are nice it is hard to hear speakers over the sound system at the stadium.
Reed noted the district held graduation in the auditorium last year with only a short amount of notice and received positive feedback. Board member David Stone Jr. said he would like to see what the district could do with more time to plan.
"We're going to do the best we can with whichever decision is made," Reed said.
After the vote the board urged Reed to find a way to make sure those who need more tickets can receive them if other graduates do not need all four tickets.
"There shouldn't be one empty seat," Reed said.
The board also heard an update from Jeff Angstadt, of Foreman Program and Construction Manager, on the middle school project.
"Things continue to progress well in the project," he told the board.
He said a bus loop in front of the school recently was completed and work soon will begin to replace a chiller and land grading in the back of the building.
Although there were some change orders last month due to unsuitable soil found on site, Angstadt said the district should expect some credit back from modifications in family and consumer science rooms.
The board also unanimously voted to renew a contract with Chartwells to provide food services management for the 2012-13 school year.