Columbia Crest Elementary School, once considered for closure, is assured of being open at least five more years after a decision Wednesday by the Eatonville School Board. During a meeting at Eatonville School District's office, the board approved keeping Columbia Crest open for a minimum of five years to provide stability for families and staff and time to expand its A-STEM program (science, technology, engineering and mathematics, along with the arts). District superintendent Krestin Bahr said the decision also supports the board's interest in moving Eatonville to become a school district committed to innovation by creating unique programs at each of its six schools. Board memberrs also authorized Columbia Crest's potential expansion from grades kindergarten through six to include seventh and eighth grades. Bahr said that allows families an educational option that maximizes learning opportunities and minimizes transitions for students. Columbia Crest, which in the past year has had an enrollment of approximately 145 students, was discussed by the School Board last year for possible closure to help the district save money. But parents of students at the school and other community members protested, and attention was turned to developing a STEM program. Since then, Columbia Crest has earned state recognition as a STEM Lighthouse School. An $18,000 grant accompanied the award. "LighthouseGÇ¥ programs provide technical assistance and advice to other schools and communities in the initial stages of creating a learning environment focused on STEM.
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