Demolition of Geiger Elementary School in Tacoma is scheduled to begin soon as contractors prepare to build a new school.
The Tacoma School Board last week awarded a bid to Berschauer Phillips Construction for $17.9 million.
A crew is already at work removing hazardous materials and completing other work in preparation for the demolition, said Pete Wall, director of planning and construction for Tacoma Public Schools.
Geiger students will move off-campus this year to accommodate the construction. They’ll attend class in the old Hunt Middle School building at 6501 S. 10th St.
A school was first built on the Geiger site at 621 S. Jackson Ave. in 1949. The building named for William Geiger, a former Tacoma superintendent and principal, has undergone at least four additions or remodeling projects over the years.
The total cost for the latest Geiger project is an estimated $26 million. Funds come from a bond approved by voters in 2001 and from money that had been set aside for a new school that was to be located near the intersection of Cirque Drive West and Alameda Avenue. After the School Board decided that school was no longer needed, it decided to sell the property.
The old Geiger is expected to be demolished by late September, Wall said.
The district is paying the contractor a premium of about $106,000 to complete its work in 10 months instead of the customary 14, he said. The goal is to have Geiger kids in their new school for the start of the 2012-13 year.
A few new features have been added to the project, including a small outdoor amphitheater.
This year, Geiger will offer a Montessori program for students in preschool through third grade. The district plans to phase in an additional grade in each of the next two years.
Geiger is one of the district’s smaller-population elementary schools and was briefly on a closure list this year. District officials hope the Montessori program will boost enrollment.
Geiger is Tacoma’s second school to adopt the Montessori method of teaching. Bryant Montessori, at 717 S. Grant Ave., serves students in preschool through eighth grade.
Montessori education emphasizes student choice, discovery and independence within limits, along with a focus on a child’s natural development.
Debbie Cafazzo: 253-597-8635