An updated budget presentation by Wenatchee Schools shows the district plans to cut its budget by about $9 million going into the next school year in August. 

It calls for a significant reduction in staffing levels and the closure of Columbia Elementary School. 

Wenatchee School Superintendent Kory Kalahar told the school board at its public meeting this week that it's the best option available. 

“The recommendation to restructure the district that has been made to the school board puts the district in the best possible position to address the severe budget reductions that are required to improve our financial position,” said Kalahar. 

The plan calls for staff along with the principal and vice principal from Columbia Elementary to be shifted to other schools in the district. 

Kalahar said staffing levels can be reduced through attrition, but admitted some employees would have to be let go. 

"The district would always prefer to do much of this work through retirements and resignations wherever possible, however, the potential closure of Columbia we are decreasing from our total staff,” said Kalahar. 

The plan for the reductions going into the 2024-2025 School year is below:  

Columbia School Closure: 

  • Elementary Administration (2 Administrators) $360,000 
  • Classroom Provisional Staff (11 teachers) $1,020,000 
  • Non-Classroom Provisional Staff (9 certificated staff) $1,017,000 
  • Custodians (2 classified staff members) - no additional staff will be added $130,000 
  • Office Staff (3 classified staff members) $121,000 
  • Nutritional Services (3 classified staff members) - no additional staff will be added $98,000 
  • 1/2 General Education paraeducator staff (3 classified staff) $48,000 

Sub-Total Staff Costs for Columbia Closure $2,794,000

Additional Budget Reductions: 

  • Middle Schools (20 certificated staff) $1,997,000 
  • High School (6 certificated staff) $671,000 
  • Additional Staffing Reductions (9 staff members) $1,000,000 
  • District Materials, Supplies, Operating Costs Misc. (The only cut not involving staff) $2,500,000 

Sub-Total for Reductions in Addition to Columbia Closure $6,168,000 

Preliminary 2024-25 WSD Restructuring Plan Reductions including the closure of Columbia Elementary  $8,962,000 


The plan to close Columbia Elementary School has drawn criticism from some parents and residents in the area. 

The school district will hold a public hearing next Thursday on the budget plan and the closure of Columbia. Another public hearing will be held on April 18. The school board will vote on whether to close the school in May. 

Kalahar said if the closure of Columbia Elementary was delayed to the 2025-2026 school year, the savings would only amount to $416,000 in staffing reductions. He said the district also would need to make reductions of $5.3 to $7.6 million. If the closure happened in the 2024-2025 school year, the next year’s reductions would only be $3 million to $4 million.  

In addition, Kalahar outlined cuts the district is not recommending for the 2024-2025 school year, although he noted that those elements would need to be considered next school year for budget reductions in 2025-2026 and in the years after if enrollment continues to decline. 

  • Reduction of Elementary Assistant 
  • Principals 2.5 Up to $500,000 
  • Reduction of Middle School Assistant 
  • Principals 1.5 Up to $300,000 
  • Reduction of High School Assistant 
  • Principals 1 Up to $200,000 
  • Elimination of the Athletic Director 1 $235,000 
  • Eliminate High School Sports stipends/travel $1,004,000 
  • Eliminate Middle School Sports stipends/travel  $633,000 
  • Eliminate 6th-grade sports stipends/travel  $69,000 
  • Eliminate School Resource Officers (SRO) $155,000 
  • Eliminate HS Security 2 $103,000 
  • Eliminate District Office Administrators $474,000 
  • Eliminate Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) 5 $531,000 
  • Eliminate Science Field Experiences 3 $115,000 
  • Eliminate building-based Assessment 
  • Coordinators stipends $207,000 
  • Eliminate the Learning Improvement Teams at each location stipends $430,000 
  • Eliminate music and drama stipends stipends  $164,000 
  • Eliminate AVID 3 $292,000 

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