By Nancy Covert
The future of the historic building known as Steilacoom School is still undetermined as school board members continue to sort through options for the 95-year-old building that faces Nisqually Street in Steilacoom.
What happens next to the school district’s oldest building has many residents curious.
Original discussions about the building’s next phase began shortly after the new Pioneer Middle School at Northwest Landing opened in August 2008. Thus far, however, little has been decided about the original structure, other than to use it as a spillover for storage and some district operations.
At its Nov. 3 board meeting, SHSD Superintendent Bill Fritz presented a list of 14 goals for the board’s consideration. Those goals were compiled in the aftermath of several meetings held in the past two years, including one that collected recommendations from community members.
At present the Pierce County library system has expressed interest in partnering with the district to use the building. Whether or not the district would relocate its offices into the building is another possibility, “if it’s cost efficient,” emphasized Mr. Fritz.
Whatever or whomever uses the building, they must meet those goals. They include maintaining facilities that are safe workplaces, maintaining aesthetic and utilization compatibility with neighborhood identity, ensuring that short-term and long-term decisions do not adversely affect resources for student learning, as well as ensuring that resource allocation for this project does not interfere with other current capital project goals (i.e., development of improved transportation infrastructure and/or acquisition of an elementary school site in DuPont.
Other goals include:
If not-for-profit partnerships are involved, the partners should cover the initial capital costs and ongoing costs of occupancy so as not to diminish resources for SHSD resources.
The District will consider previous fiscal commitments the community has made to the Pioneer Steilacoom site. A complete list of the board-approved goals can be viewed on the district’s website.
After the school was officially closed as an educational facility, the building was vacant for a short until the District began gradually using former classroom and office space to house aspects of its operation.
Presently about a dozen staff members work in the building in the areas of technology, communications, WAVA (the district’s on-line k-12 program), student assessment, student services and some sciences. The cafeteria area currently is used as a staff meeting area, and the gymnasium is used as a storage facility. In addition, Kiwanis of Steilacoom recently relocated its weekly meeting site from Steilacoom High School Library to classrooms in the former eighth grade wing. Most recently at its Nov. 3 meeting, the Board approved a motion to seek formal bids for the replacement of the roof of the old building. The bid has not been advertised.
Meanwhile, “the district continues to seek community partnerships for the building,” Mr. Fritz added. Interested parties should contact him at 253-983-2200.