Some members of the public were visibly upset as they left Tuesday's Williamsport Area School Board meeting after a motion to reconsider its decision to close two elementary schools failed 2-6.
Dr. Jane Penman, board member, made the motion. She said that, after reading an article in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette about Stevens Elementary School being one of the poorest performing schools in the state, she believed the board needed to reconsider.
The board voted July 17 to close Round Hills and Sheridan elementary schools and to keep Stevens open.
A week after the decision, the state released a list of the state's lowest performing schools. Stevens was the only county school to appear on it.
"That was absolutely horrible publicity for the school district," Penman said.
Penman added that Stevens' high volume of socio-economically disadvantaged families needs to be better spread throughout the district.
"We need to do something about equalizing the demographics of the school district," she said.
Because Stevens had such low test scores in math and reading, Penman said the district should keep open schools with high scores. She then asked the board to rethink its decision.
"We really need to take a look at our decision to keep that school open," she said.
During public comment, Joella Harvey, of the city, agreed with Penman, saying that if a business had to close a store, "You would pick the one that is not thriving.
"It does not make sense to keep a school open that is not thriving," Harvey said.
Board member Jerene Milliken said her children attended Stevens and not all students are performing poorly.
"There's a lot of kids that go to Stevens that do very well," she said.
Kathleen Raker, a supporter of Round Hills, mentioned that some in the district have said how parents should embrace change. With her child set to attend a poor-performing school in 2013, Raker said she can't embrace that change.
"I can tell you, I would embrace change if my child was going to a higher-performing school," Raker said.
After reading a letter she had emailed to the board earlier in the week, Melissa Lundy asked the board to find out what the community wants.
"Do your research. Ask questions," she said.
Irene Metzger, a grandmother of a student at Round Hills, said the district could see some ramifications from their decision. She said her daughter's family is considering moving to another school district and other families are doing the same.
After the meeting, Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Kelley said the district will make a plan of transition for everyone involved in moves throughout the year.
"It's everything from transportation to staffing to the physical move," she said.