At a special meeting last night, the Woodland Hills school board voted, 5-4, to approve a motion to close Rankin Intermediate School next year.
Board members Colleen Filiak, Robert Clanagan and Robert Tomasic, with board vice president Fred Kuhn, cast the opposing votes.
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Mr. Kuhn spoke out against the closure, saying it is not necessary fiscally sound and will further isolate a struggling community from the school district.
"I think that school in Rankin is the heartbeat of the town of Rankin," Mr. Kuhn said. "If we close that school it's a big bump in the road to that community."
Mr. Tomasic argued that the notion of parental involvement in education could be demonstrated in Rankin for a much smaller price than the district will pay for the Woodland Hills Academy, an intensive learning school set to open next school year.
"I was hoping the superintendent would have a change of heart, say let's keep this facility open, we can have parental involvement at this facility," Mr. Tomasic said. "Instead, he said, I'll spend thousands of dollars to have the [Woodland Hills] Academy, but won't spend dime one on this school to have parental involvement."
Board member Cynthia Lowery said her vote came down to the fact that there are too few students attending Rankin, and they don't have the resources they would receive at another facility.
"It's a very difficult decision. The problem is we have to balance the needs of the community against the needs of the students," she said. "It just doesn't work funding a building with 170 students."
William Price, president of Rankin borough council, stormed out of the meeting following the vote, calling it "a sad day" in the district.
Plans to reassign students from Rankin Intermediate to other schools were not discussed at the meeting.
Deborah M. Todd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1652.