Newly shuttered Columbia Elementary School was a bastion of progress, according to the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

2023 was Columbia's penultimate year of operation. But even amid cratering enrollment and punishing austerity, the school put up solid numbers. It was one of four schools across Wenatchee and Eastmont to be honored by the OSPI's Washington Student Recognition Program.

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According to this news release, "schools can be recognized for gains in more than one category." The categories are as follows: gap closure, growth and achievement.

Columbia demonstrated perceptible growth "for one or more student groups." (Ditto for Grant and Lee Elementary Schools.) Elsewhere in Wenatchee, Orchard Middle School made "significant advances" for ELL students.

It's not as though Columbia was free from fault or defect. Enough students underperformed that Columbia was identified for additional supports through the Washington School Improvement Framework (WSIF).

But tremendous strides had been made; that seems to be the empirical truth of the matter. The enormity of student progress was often cited by faculty, parents and organizers in their futile pleas to keep Columbia open.

On May 14, the Wenatchee School Board voted unanimously to shutter Columbia, where plummeting enrollment had created a $9 million budget deficit.

"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," reads a statement on the district's website.

"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."

Click here to read our exchange with an impassioned former kindergarten teacher at the school.

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