Group To Challenge Wenatchee School Closing, Circulates Petition
A group known as the Columbia Elementary Parent Advocate Group says it's challenging the Wenatchee School District’s plan to close Columbia Elementary School in June.
The group says there was a lack of community involvement in the decision to close the school.
It says the district hasn't completed an inspection of each of the district's buildings and does not have a plan to redraw antiquated school boundary lines.
The group wants the school board to create procedures for community members to have a say in determining the best way forward in dealing with the district’s $9 million budget shortfall.
It says public trust in the Wenatchee School District is in a vulnerable position due in part to the $9 million dollar budgeting error of 2022.
The School District announced last month it was closing Columbia Elementary School and consolidating students into neighboring schools in the district.
The district made the announcement Saturday, January 20 after meeting with Columbia Elementary staff the previous day.
The district then held a meeting to explain its reasoning for closing the school. The district limited attendance at the meeting to 120 people, citing fire code concerns.
Still, the public comment period lasted nearly 2:30 hours and featured an outpouring of negative reaction to the school closing.
The school district then announced two public hearings on the planned closure in March and April.
The district says the closure of Columbia Elementary will save the district $3 million.
Wenatchee Schools currently has an overall goal of cutting its budget by $8.6 million for the next school year.
The Parent Advocate Group also has a petition through Change.org that's received more than 1,000 signatures in about two weeks.
The petition asks for support in preserving Columbia Elementary School for current students and future generations.
It says Columbia has the second highest population of minority students in the district and has a high poverty rate.
The petition calls into question the district's decision making, stating when closing the Wenatchee Internet Academy last year, the school district proposed 3 different options, but Columbia, with a minority enrollment 74%, has only been provided one.
It says the School District has damaged the trust of both our local and broader community.
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