Columbia Crest deserves to stay open and keep educating kids

4:16 pm March 8th, 2013

By Ken and Autumn Zentz
As parents of a Columbia Crest Elementary School student, we were saddened to hear that closing Columbia Crest is once again a topic on the Eatonville School Board agenda. Four years ago, we were told that Columbia Crest would not be closed. We have watched the superintendent and School Board make fiscal decisions that gave us the assurance that they indeed meant what they said.
Columbia Crest School (CCS) is the heart of the Ashford, Elbe and Alder communities. It also serves many of the students from Mineral who consider CCS their school, as well. Without CCS, they will return to the Morton School District.
Columbia Crest provides a wonderful environment and rich tradition that has been a support to student learning since the 1950s. Happily, the enrollment at CCS has continued to increase over the last four years. The school has excellent support from its parents as they can be involved. If the school were moved, this access to programs would sadly be reduced for parents on limited incomes. The Eatonville School District has two distinct rural parts with a small town in the middle. Each part is important to the whole.
Great things are happening at Columbia Crest. The Summit Program for highly-capable fifth and sixth-grade students is in the best place possible, according to an OSPI (state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction) review. The connection that has been created with Mount Rainier National Park and all the classrooms at CCS allows all students to have enriched lessons in geology, topography and other earth, water and land use once each month. When the instructors can walk to CCS, making the partnership is an easy one. OSPI recently recognized CCS with an Academic Achievement Award, and on Feb. 22, was placed on the List of Highest Performing Schools. \
Over the years, Columbia Crest has been involved in many artist-in-residence programs, which have provided the rural school with cultural opportunities. When the funding for the Pierce County Arts Commission was no longer available, the PTO stepped forward to provide extra programs for the students to include this year’s Pacific Science Center visit to the school.
To demonstrate support for the decision that the School Board made four years ago, the school building has had many improvements. When the playshed collapsed from heavy snow, the insurance money ($100,000) was combined with bond money to build a new playshed, improve fire lanes and improve other safety issues required by Pierce County. Following that, the superintendent wrote and received an energy grant which improved the cooling and heating system, which promised to save thousands of dollars in energy costs. Other bond money was used for improving areas of the building, including new student restrooms and wash stations. All together, the district invested $727,000 in CCS.
Although we have heard that the district is looking to cut many aspects from the budget and “everything is on the table,” the only option presented on the business manager’s financial information was closing CCS. We feel that the school district must live within the funding provided, and if an exception is made it, is only for the purpose of increasing student achievement. As parents and taxpayers in this district, we urge the Eatonville School Board to explore all options and apply cuts in a fair and equitable manner.
We want you to know how very important Columbia Crest Elementary School is to the communities it serves, and ask that the school remain in its role of educating the students of this district.

8 Responses to Columbia Crest deserves to stay open and keep educating kids

  1. agstr Reply

    March 9, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    What a travesty even to float this idea of closing a school that is community based and has a rich history– the department of ‘education’ wastes tremendous amounts of taxpayer dollars — just check performance standards of children attending schools with less than half the resources (granted, salaries are lower, which should not be lauded). Keep it local, support community.

  2. Beth Redman Reply

    March 15, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Thank-you for writing and sharing the article regarding the threat of closing Columbia Crest School. I am a concerned parent of two students that attend Columbia Crest. We do not want to bus our kids to a school over an hour away. It would mean much less sleep for the kids and parents who have to get up early to get them to the bus stop. It would mean many parents opt to homeschool. Why not reconsider the idea of a 4 day school week? Three day weekends mean more family time and save the district money. It would be a much better alternative than closing Columbia Crest.

  3. Save Columbia Crest! Reply

    March 18, 2013 at 11:40 am

    I am disappointed to hear that our school board would even consider closing such a quality school that provides students with excellent education. Help our community and support this awesome school of Columbia Crest.

  4. Judy Hilliker Williamson Reply

    March 18, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    This would be a Travesty to close Columbia Crest Grade School! I started school up there when I was a child and lived in a small logging town called National just up the road from the school. We were the first kids to start in that school! That was 64 years ago and whenever I go up to Eatonville to visit family I take a drive up that way just to see and reminisce of a lifetime that was so long ago Many good memories of life from there and the school years. I hope that all the parents who have children going to the school will fight the closer of Columbia Crest. Its vital to keep it open not only for the good teaching but for prosperity.

  5. Cindy Gonzalez Reply

    April 7, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Closing Columbia Crest is a laughable idea to “save” money!! The impact of the cost of busing kids to Weyerhauser or Eatonville is tremendous, not to mention the exhaustive impact on the children, having to get up at God knows what hour to catch the bus and getting home too late to eat dinner and do homework. The cost is much greater that just the money!! The district has obviously been a bit lax in HOW they have divided and spent the levy monies and aren’t looking beyond the moment at the impact closing the school would have. It’s not fair to punish the outlying area for the district’s failure to see the BIG picture. If I had a small child in that school at this time, I would be pulling her out to home school before putting her on a bus for hours every day. If all the parents decided to do the same, those children would be out of the district and the district would lose that money as well!!! Then you would still have the liability of maintaining the empty buildings or just let all that $750,000 go down the drain. That’s not smart either! The board needs to open their eyes and start listening to the people!

  6. Beth Redman Reply

    April 8, 2013 at 9:43 am

    I like your comment and agree that it is a bad idea to even condsider closing Columbia Crest. The district stands to loose a lot of $$ when our kids are pulled out to homeschool. If it happens, why not form a parent’s cooperative to homeschool our kids? We could take turns with the kids at different homes with the parents teaching what they are good at. I personally have experience sub-teaching and could do well at teaching science, language arts and physical education.

  7. Eric Watson Reply

    April 8, 2013 at 11:50 am

    I agree with the 4 other comments. Keep the school open. It would cost too much to maintain a closed school and in time the school would rot. We need to keep the history going on this school it was good in the past and would remain even better. Look at Wilkeson schools. The school is over 100 years old and is still going strong. The town members of Eatonville have a right to make a decisions since they are paying house and property taxes yearly and the amount they pay out vs the population should at least amount to a billion dollars a year in property taxes. SO, where is that money going if its not covering the area they live in? I think we should look at XGovernor Christine Gregories pocket book……I bet she has a bigger number than when she started. Much much bigger.

  8. agstr Reply

    April 8, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Keep Columbia Crest open and manage tax payer funding wisely for the benefit of community.

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