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Tensions flare at Seattle school closure meeting

Seattle Public Schools’ community meetings on proposed school closures got off to a bumpy start.

Hundreds of parents packed the Roosevelt High School auditorium Tuesday night, hoping to get answers.

The mood quickly turned tense.

Even before the meeting started, dozens of parents rallied outside, fighting for their schools.

"Keep schools open," the group chanted. "Show your work!"

The night ended with frustrated parents booing and shouting at Superintendent Brent Jones and other district leaders.

"This isn't a conducive environment to have a back and forth like that," Jones told the crowd, as many parents stood up and shouted in anger.

In a brief presentation, district officials reiterated their belief that closing up to 20 elementary schools is essential to address the district's ongoing financial crisis. They also acknowledged staffing reductions will be necessary.

RELATED: How Seattle Public Schools' budget woes got so bad

District officials did not take questions directly from the audience, but instead encouraged people to submit questions to an online platform called “ThoughtExchange.” Some district staff were also available in the lobby to talk with parents in smaller groups.

After the meeting, many parents said they were disappointed there wasn't more of a conversation.

"I think people feel a little cheated coming here," said Megan Campbell, the mom of a first-grader at Laurelhurst Elementary. "But it's also just very apparent that they've already made their decision."

Campbell also wanted more information.

"Without saying it's going to happen, it's going to happen," Campbell said. "It's frustrating to not have more clarity into the numbers exactly and how they're making these decisions."

RELATED: SPS to hold community meetings about possible closures

The next meeting will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at Garfield High School.

A list of schools slated for closure is expected next month.

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