There continues to be vocal opposition to the proposed closure of Columbia Elementary School in Wenatchee.

"I beg you to vote no on May 14th," said Aaron Gahringer, a fifth-grade teacher at Columbia. "This plan has been poorly designed, executed, and without the input from the larger community. We can do better. Our kids deserve better."

Gahringer was one of more than two dozen people who spoke at the first of two public hearings on the school closure.

Schools in Washington are required to hold hearings during 90 days before a decision is made on whether to close a school.

A large group of people gathered for the first hearing Thursday at the Wenatchee High School Commons.

Parents, students, and teachers addressed the five-member school board, urging a no vote for the school closure.

Columbia fourth grade teacher Liz Kazemba harshly criticized the district's process for closing the school.

"The disorganization and the lack of transparency around the district budget shortfall, the proposed closure of Columbia, the shuffling several times of the building principals, the random order of placement among non-provisional building staff, and the overarching message that this is a done deal is bringing anger, hurt and mistrust to everyone involved," said Kazemba.

The closure of Columbia Elementary is part of a nearly $9 million budget cut the district plans to have in place going into the next school year in August.

The closure of Columbia would account for $2,794,000 of the budget cut.

Interim Superintendent Bill Eagle first announced the discovery of an $8-9 million budget shortfall in January of 2023.

The shortfall was blamed on the elimination of federal pandemic relief money as well as a sharp drop in enrollment and expected cuts from the state legislature.

The second public hearing on the closure of Columbia Elementary will be held April 18 in the Wenatchee High School Commons from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The school board will vote on whether to close the school on May14.

45 Famous Alumni from Washington State High Schools

Gallery Credit: Reesha Cosby