I  am almost certain that members of the York City school board and its superintendent at the time, Deborah Wortham, never thought for a moment they'd have to reconsider their decision to shut down the district's performing arts program.

But that's apparently what's happening as part of the district's state mandated reorganization plan.

File it under the category of "unintended consequences," I guess.

About two years ago, when the York City School District was in the throes of painful consideration about how to save the district financially and academically, a decision was made to save money by eliminating programs and teaching positions.

It was a difficult time, to be sure.

About 140 teachers and professional staffers lost their jobs over a two-year period. And a number of programs, including the well-established performing arts program, were axed.

All school districts have a calling card -- something they are known for being especially good at. At York High, that was basketball, football and performing arts -- specifically theater, music and dance.

Basketball and football programs continue to exist. The performing arts program, as good as it was, does not.

It was so good, in fact, that students from all over York County paid tuition to the city school district to participate in the performing arts program.

Then, in the blink of an eye, it was gone. Slightly more than 100 performing arts students and its longtime leader, Calvin Weary, suddenly found themselves on the outside looking in at York High.

"We have to re-brand ourselves," Wortham said at the time.

And so they did.

But in the process, most of those students left York High and took their taxpayer dollars with them to a new program for performing artists. Figure in the vicinity of $1.3 million lost to the city school district -- 100 students times $13,000 per student.

In a matter of days after the district eliminated performing arts, the New Hope Academy charter school announced it would rescue the program so those students could continue chasing their singing, dancing and/or acting dreams.

Then a few weeks later, it said it would join forces with the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center to provide space, equipment and personnel to continue the program.

It was a dream come true for those York City students who had a passion for performing arts.

And a couple of months after that, the York City school board approved an amendment to the New Hope Academy charter to allow it to include performing arts in its curriculum.

Like I said, unintended consequences.

Because now, as part of the district's financial recovery plan, an effort is being made to recruit all those students who defected to one of the charter schools located in York City back to the public school system.

That includes the performing arts students it disenfranchised just two years ago.

As it turns out, a major cause of the city school district's financial distress is the result of thousands of students enrolling in charter schools over a four-year period. Because when they left, the city school district was required to pay the charter school tuition for them.

Part of the enticement to get those students back is a themed magnet school philosophy -- science, technology, engineering and math, for instance -- that also includes performing arts.

They're being called "academies."

Call them what you will. The bottom line is many of the same students who had a passion for performing arts just two years ago, and were given the boot by school district officials looking to save money, are now being recruited to return to an arts-themed magnet school in an effort to revitalize the district's revenue stream.

The truth of the matter is the decision to eliminate performing arts two years ago was a stupid -- maybe you'd prefer to call it "silly" -- error in judgment. The school board thought it could save a few hundred thousand dollars a year, but instead ended up losing more than $1 million a year in lost per-student funding.

Now it's apparently seen the error of its ways.

Better late than never, I guess.

Then again, maybe not.

Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail: lhicks@yorkdispatch.com.