Bethel School District
66059abc325ed0001d0981a4 New Bethel Edited

Construction begins on long-awaited new high school in Washington state

March 28, 2024
The new Bethel High in Pierce County, Washington, is expected to open in 2026.

More than 100 students, families and local officials gathered in front of an empty field in Pierce County, Washington, to break ground on a much-anticipated new Bethel High School

The Tacoma News-Tribune reports that what will be a two-story, 285,000-square-foot, technologically savvy building is expected to open in fall 2026.

The campus will have a performing arts center, gymnasium, large classrooms and space for welding classes, as well as other career and technical education courses.

Construction is coming after nearly 17 years of planning and delays; money for the project comes from a bond issue approved by voters in 2019.

Bethel High School Principal Christy Rodriguez says students have long outgrown the existing building in Spanaway. Built in 1952, it’s the oldest school in the Bethel School District. Water damage, plumbing issues and aging infrastructure have plagued the school for years, as has overcrowding.

Rodriguez said the school has to use 21 temporary portable classrooms to accommodate its enrolment of nearly 1,500 students.

The new school will be able to hold up to 1,800 students, meaning there will be no more need for portable classrooms, said Sara Coccia, the district's director of construction and planning.

The new campus will be mostly wireless, with an updated wifi system and more usable outlets. The existing school experiences shortages if too many outlets are used, and the wifi doesn’t work in all areas of campus, said Michael Christianson, the district’s chief technology officer.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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