Last night the Wenatchee School Board voted unanimously to close Columbia Elementary for good.

After months of intrigue, discord and uncertainty, the school board finally handed down its decision. The vote was presaged by more than an hour of fraught testimony. Many parents and faculty made it plain that they did not approve of shuttering Columbia.

For years the school has been battered by plummeting enrollment and what some would describe as chronic underperformance. Despite a better-than-average student-teacher ratio, most children at Columbia do not perform at grade level, according to U.S. News & Report.

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But that scarcely makes a difference to Micaela Salgado. She spoke during last night's meeting and was visibly impassioned; at times her voice quavered. A second-year kindergarten instructor, Salgado had hoped to work at Columbia for the duration of her career. But as a provisional teacher, she lacked full licensure and her employment was tenuous. Salgado was told in February that layouts were imminent and she would not be spared.

"It makes me feel like I'm an old rag," she says. "An old rag they're using that they can just toss and then bring back whenever they want."

Despite her grievances, Salgado says the well-being of her students has to take priority. Columbia mostly serves low-income families. Because these families have little power or recourse, the school board is more cavalier than it might otherwise be, Salgado thinks.

"We are a Title I school," Salgado says. "And again, the decision they made last night just goes to show that they use this marginalized population as promotional material."

Click here to watch the school board meeting in its own entirety.

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