Puyallup: Sumner

With one school nearly filled, district officials break ground on a new elementary in Tehaleh

The Sumner School District officially introduced plans for its newest elementary school in Tehaleh at a groundbreaking ceremony last week.

At approximately 55,000 square feet, the new $28 million school will be the district’s ninth elementary school and the first elementary school with two stories. It’s built to serve 550 students, kindergarten through fifth grade.

“Thank you for being here for an incredibly exciting and historical day in our district,” Sumner School District Superintendent Laurie Dent said at the groundbreaking.

The new elementary school was identified as a critical capacity facility needs project in a $145.6 million Capital Projects Bond, which was approved by voters in February 2016. Rapid growth in the district’s southeast area near Bonney Lake and Tehaleh ensured that the elementary school would be needed in the near future.

And that rapid growth continues. Tehaleh, located just south of Bonney Lake, is growing by 300 houses a year, said Scott Jones, senior vice president of Newland Communities, which is developing in Tehaleh. Currently, 2,500 people are living in the area, with numbers steadily increasing.

“There are a lot of families with a lot of kids (living in Tehaleh),” Jones said. “Having a new school here demonstrates how the community is growing.”

Five years ago, the only building standing in Tehaleh was Sumner School District’s Donald Eismann Elementary School. Now, in addition to hundreds of houses, Tehaleh has 10 miles of trails and 11 parks. But the growth also means Donald Eismann is reaching full capacity. Jones said the school district was looking ahead and planning for the growth.

Amanda Martin moved to Tehaleh last spring. Her oldest child, Bayne, is 8 years old and attends Donald Eismann. When the new elementary school opens in the fall of 2018, he’ll be going there — within walking distance of the family’s house.

“To have another elementary school so that Donald Eismann isn’t so crowded anymore — that’ll be great,” she said.

Her youngest, Barrette, is 10 months old, and in a few years will be attending the new elementary school as well. Bayne said he’s looking forward to the new playground equipment.

“It’s a great community,” Martin said, adding that she enjoys living in the area.

The new elementary school will also feature science, technology, engineering and math learning. While STEM curriculum is implemented in all of the district’s schools, this school will have something new: a STEM courtyard with a rain garden for students to study.

Aside from access to the outdoor environment, the angles and textures of the school also provides learning opportunities for kids, said Sandy Miller, current principal of Bonney Lake Elementary School and future principal of the new school.

“While a building does not define the quality of education that students receive, it can certainly expand and enhance exploration of 21st century learning opportunities, preparing students for the future,” Miller said. “My hope is that this new school will catapult curiosity for subjects like science and technology and engineering and math.”

The school also features 24 classrooms with classrooms for specialists, a library, a health and fitness center, a multipurpose field and a performing arts room. An Early Learning Center will be built at a later date.

The new school does not yet have a name, but is expected to next spring. It’ll open its doors in time for the school year next fall. For more information, visit sumnersd.org.

Allison Needles: 253-597-8507, @herald_allison