Wenatchee District Closing Columbia Elementary After School Year
The Wenatchee School District is closing Columbia Elementary School and consolidating students into neighboring schools in the district.
The district made the announcement Saturday after meeting with Columbia Elementary staff Friday.
Wenatchee Schools initially told KPQ the discussions were "very internal" with "a select small group of Columbia staff."
The district says it’ll present a detailed financial report and reasoning behind the action to the school board during their meeting Tuesday.
The elementary school will close after the current school year.
The district said in its news release Saturday that the, “decision comes as a result of declining enrollment and the need to optimize resources in the face of significant budget constraints.”
A budget shortfall of almost $4.5 million was offset over last summer by job cuts and cuts to spending on supplies the district made.
The Wenatchee Schools budget before those cuts totals $135.4 million but fell to just under $131 million to balance out.
Enrollment has been a chronic problem over the last decade, dropping by 751 students between 2015 and 2023. There were also 57 fewer students enrolled in the last year from the 2021-2022 school year. Enrollment fell again this past fall and was expected to stabilize in 2024-25.
The district says it’s already begun planning for this transition for the transfer of students and staff from Columbia Elementary to other schools.
"While this was a difficult decision to make, we believe it is the right decision for the long-term sustainability of our district," said Superintendent Dr. Kory Kalahar. "By consolidating our elementary schools from seven to six, we can optimize our staff and resources and continue to provide high-quality instruction to all of our students.”
The district said its "evaluating additional offerings" within the district that could utilize the Columbia building.
KPQ was originally alerted to the Friday meeting at Columbia Elementary by John Kruse, the host of Northwestern Outdoors Radio.