One of Tacoma’s most historic public school buildings will be first on a list of major school construction projects to be financed as part of the $500 million bond measure approved by voters this month.
Work on Washington-Hoyt Elementary School on North 26th Street in the Proctor District is slated to begin shortly after the last school bell rings for the year in mid-June.
One of the biggest changes will be the consolidation of Washington and its satellite, Hoyt, a separate building a few blocks away on Union Avenue. It hasn’t been decided yet what will happen to Hoyt, a smaller school built in 1959 that preservationists say has some historic value.
But Hoyt does not have the landmark status that Washington does. The red brick school opened in 1906, and it’s listed on the city, state and national historic registers.
One reason Washington is first in line among the 14 major bond projects is because it was already in the planning stages before the Feb. 12 vote.
The school board looked at plans for modernizing Washington last summer, when funding was still expected to come from a 2010 capital levy. But with passage of the bond, the school district promised to forgo collection of about half of the 2010 levy dollars in favor of longer-term borrowing through the sale of bonds.
The estimated cost for the Washington-Hoyt project is $28 million.
The Tacoma School Board will meet at 6 p.m. Monday for a study session to discuss district-wide school construction schedules and timelines. In addition, the district plans a series of neighborhood meetings to gather input on future school construction projects.
Other historic schools on the list for reconstruction with bond money include McCarver Elementary on the Hilltop and Stewart Middle School on Pacific Avenue. The district has promised to preserve the exterior architecture of the historic schools, including Washington, but wants to essentially gut their interiors and transform them into modern learning environments.
The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has already approved plans for Washington’s design.
The project will give Washington a list of amenities, including an elevator and other handicap-accessible features, a covered playground and a glass-walled addition to keep the historic part of the building visible. The school’s main entrance will move around the corner to Adams Street.
While the project will restore the original historic school, a 1949 addition will be demolished. In its place will be a new structure containing a cafeteria, stage, gym, library and additional classrooms, according to information submitted in October to the state Department of Ecology.
That document also indicates that trees around the school will be removed; an arborist determined that most are in poor health or have abnormalities that prevent proper growth.
During construction of the new Washington campus, students would move to the former Hunt Middle School for the 2013-14 school year.
The renovated and enlarged Washington is expected to open in September 2014.
Debbie Cafazzo: 253-597-8635
TO LEARN MORE
You can see an animated “flyover” of the new Washington Elementary design on the Tacoma Public Schools website here: bit.ly/VAj9tc.