By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The School Reform Commission got an earful last night, over the proposal to close 37 Philadelphia schools.  It was the public’s first chance to appeal to the commission directly.

Chanting “save our schools,” an overflow crowd of parents and students packed the first School Reform Commission meeting since Superintendent William Hite announced the school closure plan last week.

The plan would move the Philadelphia Military Academy at Elverson in North Philadelphia to Roosevelt Middle School in East Mt. Airy. Teacher Theodore Yale said, there has to be a better way. “I refuse to believe that taking one of the best schools we have in this jacked-up district and shipping it halfway across the city and seeing who sticks around is the only option.”

Kia Stroman, Vice President of the Home and School Association at McCloskey Elementary school in Cedarbrook said closing her school shouldn’t even be an option.

“You guys have spent a year working on this.  And we’ve spent two weeks and we’re already come up with different solutions other than closing our schools.”

The district has said it can’t afford to maintain underutilized school buildings.

The SRC heard more than two and a half hours of public testimony last night, and Commissioner Wendell Pritchett says the SRC will gather much more input before making any decisions.

“It’s going to be a very public process.  In January and February it’s going to be full of public meetings for discussion about these issues.”

The SRC is expected to vote on the closure plan in March.

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