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Columbia Elementary School

Board Votes to Close Columbia Elementary

Board Votes to Close Columbia Elementary

During their Tuesday, May 14 meeting, the Wenatchee School board voted unanimously to close Columbia Elementary for the 2024-2025 school year. The decision comes at the end of a required 90-day listening period during which the board held public hearings and collected feedback from stakeholders and data from the district on budget reduction strategies to close a $9 million funding gap due to declining enrollment.

The proposal to close Columbia either next school year or the following year was based on a careful and thorough evaluation of all possible areas to reduce costs and public and school board engagement over the last 90 days. The closure, coupled with staffing and budget reductions across the district, will help preserve programming and ensure we can continue providing high-quality education and opportunities to all of our 6,800 students.

The district believes restructuring is necessary and is committed to supporting all those affected during this transition. Lincoln and Washington elementary school leaders and staff are ready to welcome Columbia's students and families in the fall and create new, thriving learning environments.

“I want to acknowledge the human element of this decision,” said Superintendent Dr. Kory Kalahar. “We know that Columbia Elementary is not just a school but a community and a family. We understand the impact of this decision on the students, families, and staff of Columbia. Our administrators and school board feel the weight of this decision and share in the emotional toll of this process. We acknowledge the difficulty of the process and its outcome and apologize for any hardships this process and subsequent decision may cause.”

The closure will take effect at the end of June 2024. The district has not yet announced plans for Columbia School's future use. However, it does not intend to sell or make it available for exclusive non-district use. In planning for the future, the district’s goal is to honor the school and the building and use it to grow enrollment. The District’s stakeholder long-range facilities committee will discuss the future use of the building at their next meeting in June. The District will make an announcement on the building's future as more information becomes available.

“I recognize that this situation may have caused staff and community members to doubt the district, but we reaffirm our commitment to our stakeholders and to rebuilding trust. We are undergoing this difficult process to correct problems and build a better plan and mechanism for addressing them in the future, explained Kalahar.

The Wenatchee School District is dedicated to ensuring our students and staff have the resources and support they need to succeed. We are committed to being transparent and open about the decision-making process, and we appreciate the community's participation and feedback. Together, we will navigate this difficult process and become stronger on the other side.

Information on the closure for Columbia families can be found on our website

Watch the May 14th board meeting
Learn more about the WSD budget

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