Tacoma’s Science and Math Institute will get its first permanent building by 2015 – one of the first projects in a Tacoma Public Schools construction boom ignited by voter approval this month of a $500 million bond measure.
SAMI, which opened in 2009 on the grounds of Point Defiance Park, is near the front of the line in the construction schedule approved Monday night by The Tacoma School Board. The schedule envisions the completion of 14 new and renovated schools over eight years.
The board approved timelines for the major projects included in the bond. Many will require students to move to temporary locations during construction, but others will not – it depends on the size of different school sites, design of the new buildings and other factors.
Nearly 200 small capital improvement projects scattered at campuses throughout the district will also be done while the new schools are constructed and opened.
Timelines approved by the school board, in order:
• Washington-Hoyt Elementary School will be first, beginning this summer – no surprise, since it was included in a previous capital levy. Students will attend classes at the empty Hunt Middle School during the 2013-14 year. The renovated Washington, which will have a new addition and space for students who now use the separate Hoyt building, is scheduled to open in September 2014.
• Completion of a new building for SAMI, now mostly contained in portable classrooms, by September 2015. Students will likely stay in their current classrooms during construction. Hunt will serve as a back-up site if needed.
• Renovation of McCarver Elementary and Wilson High School, to be completed by September 2016. McCarver students would move to a site yet to be determined during construction.
• Renovation of Stewart Middle School by September 2017. Stewart students would spend two years in temporary quarters at Hunt.
Both Stewart and McCarver are on city and state historic registers. The school district has promised to rebuild the interiors of both schools while preserving the exterior architectural character. The plan is similar for Washington-Hoyt, which is listed on city, state and national historic registers.
• Construction of a new Wainwright Elementary and a new Arlington Elementary by September 2017. Wainwright is closed, but district officials say future enrollment growth will require a new school on the Fircrest site. Arlington students would move to a site yet to be determined during construction.
• Building a new Browns Point Elementary and Mary Lyon Elementary by September 2018. Mary Lyon students would move to Hunt during construction.
• Construction of a new Birney Elementary and Grant Center for the Expressive Arts by September 2019. Grant students would move to Hunt during construction.
• Building a new Boze Elementary and Downing Elementary by September 2020. Downing students might need to move to Hunt during construction.
• Construction of a new Hunt Middle School by September 2021. The school was closed in 2010 due to low test scores and low enrollment. But district officials project enrollment growth will require a new Hunt by the end of the construction cycle.
The Feb. 12 bond measure won approval from nearly 71 percent of Tacoma School District voters who cast ballots – the highest “yes” percentage on a Tacoma school bond in at least three decades.
Kristin Tinder, co-director at SAMI, said her school’s 410 students, including this year’s first senior class, are spread throughout a hodgepodge of facilities at the park – from 13 portable buildings to the Fort Nisqually site, to picnic shelters, to the newly restored pagoda.
“They are super excited about the possibilities, and the staff is as well,” Tinder said. “The whole point of our school is to use Point Defiance Park as a learning lab. The new building will enhance that even more.”
The school district is in discussions with Metro Parks Tacoma to determine a specific site for the new SAMI building.
Debbie Cafazzo: 253-597-8635
Staff writer Matt Misterek contributed to this report.