New Bethel High construction delayed

This summer, updates to a Pierce County Stormwater Manual are scheduled to be adopted that will delay the opening date for new Bethel High School.

The original timeline for opening the new school was September 2023. Changes to the Pierce County Stormwater regulations will delay opening until 2024 or 2025.

The updates to the Pierce County Stormwater Manual’s regulations reflect the evolution of “best available science” and have resulted in development standards that are different than when the District purchased the property in 2009.

The changes to the Stormwater Manual include new more stringent threshold methodologies to determine if the site’s stormwater could impact a “Category 1 Wetland,” which is located in the southeast corner of the new Bethel High School site.

The District has already begun work to study the movement of the site’s groundwater, but the process can take up to one year. If it takes a full year, the opening of the school could be pushed back to the fall of 2025.

“Of course, we’re disappointed that new regulations will delay the opening of a much needed school in our growing community,” said Superintendent Tom Seigel. “But Bethel School District works very hard to be good stewards of the environment, and we will continue to protect our natural resources, and in so doing, set an example for our students.”

Katherine G. Johnson Elementary

A rare February snowstorm didn’t slow the progress our crews are making on the new Katherine G. Johnson Elementary, which is scheduled to open to students next fall.

This month our team began framing and roofing the school’s playshed. They also worked on painting the B-wing and adding plumbing, electrical and HVAC to the G-wing, among other construction milestones.

It’s been an exciting journey since we broke ground on the school last June on Waller Road between Military and 176th. In July the school was officially named in honor of the extraordinary American mathematician who calculated and analyzed the flight paths of spacecraft during her more than three decades with the U.S. space program.

When it opens this fall, the school will comfortably house 700 students, with space for enough portables to house another 200 students on site.

Bethel Early Learning Center

Workers are continuing to make great progress on the Bethel Early Learning Center.

This project — which is converting an old church into a learning center — will be the first of its kind in the district. It was designed to allow us to move preschool classrooms out of our crowded elementary schools and into the new building. The 12,000 square foot center will feature seven classrooms, administrative offices, support facilities, and will house approximately 250 students each day.

The center is being financed by impact fees, rather than bond money. Impact fees are collected when new homes are built in the district. The fees go up very minimally each year based on the consumer index and the money collected is generally used to purchase and place portable classrooms.

In addition to the main building, the center will feature a fun and educational outdoor space for playing, eating and learning.

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