Battle in Arlington to save historic school

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by ELISA HAHN / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on May 10, 2010 at 10:17 PM

Updated Monday, May 10 at 10:44 PM

ARLINGTON, Wash. - Parents and students sounded off in Arlington Monday night to save a beloved elementary school that is a piece of Washington state history.

Trafton Elementary School is located in rural Arlington and it's the oldest school in Washington state.

To its students, it is much more than a piece of history. They say there is something very special about this school and shutting it down would be a big mistake.

At a school board meeting, Trafton students sang about their beloved school. Trafton has been around since 1888.

"Look at these young kids. What else would get them here besides the love of their beloved school?" one parent asked.

Many students wrote essays and letters for the school board, and held signs in the air. Some, like 7-year-old Mikayla O'Neill, collected signatures for a petition fighting to save their school.

"I really love and enjoy being in a school that is part of history," O'Neill said.

Trafton is a small K-5 school in rural Arlington, just 138 students and five classrooms.

"Look at the rural areas these people need this atmosphere, this is what they're used to," one parent said.

But the Arlington School District is facing a $1.6 million budget shortfall, and Trafton desperately needs repair. A district spokeswoman says shuttering the school could save a lot of money.

"$277,000 in operational costs per year, that does not factor in some facility needs," district spokesperson Misti Gilman says. "An early estimate says about $1 million in facility needs."

In response, many point out that the Arlington superintendent is the 4th highest paid in the state, and that her salary should be cut.

"Look deep inside yourselves when you make this decision. Because of a few dollar shortfall that can very easily be raised," said one parent.

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