old pchs decision

Project estimate to save a portion of the school is $2.2M over amount allocated

The Pierce County Board of Education will attempt to save the gym and front classroom of the old Pierce County High School and demolish the rest of the 40-year-old building.

The board voted unanimously at last Tuesday’s work session to begin the process of saving the gym and classroom area at the front of the old school and demolishing the remainder of the building. The meeting was moved up a week due to spring break.

The next step will be to hire an architect to oversee the details of both preserving a portion and tearing down a portion of the building.

“We will be able to put a price on both and see what is feasible,” School Superintendent Dara Bennett said.

Bennett said the architect will be tasked with doing the planning and engineering for electrical, plumbing, heating and air and structural aspects for saving the gym and front classroom and making them free standing from the portion of the school that is to be torn down.

The debate over what to do about the old high school has been discussed for over a year, since the opening of the new PCHS in January 2020.

PCHS principal Kelly Murray recommended the “save part-demolish part” proposal for the old school during the BOE’s January 2021 work session.  

Under the save-demolish decision, the gym will be saved for use as a practice facility for basketball, football, wrestling, cheerleading and other programs. The front classroom there will be the site of Gateway, the high school’s alternative school. Gateway is currently housed in mobile units behind the old high school, far removed and hidden from view of the new school.

The remainder of the old high school building, including the academic, Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) wings, band room, cafeteria and auditorium will be torn down.  

The space the old school sat on will be converted to and maintained as a grassy area used for parking.

A total of $1.1 million for demolition of the old PCHS was included in the construction budget for the new high school.

The initial proposal last year was to tear down the building at an estimated cost of between $530,000 and $708,000. The block and concrete would be sold to offset costs.

Previous estimates put the cost of saving the gym and front portion at almost $3.3 million. The additional $2.2 million needed to make the improvements and salvage the building will have to come from local funds. The school system no longer receives state funding for upkeep of the old PCHS.

Since the old school was closed in January of last year, the board has spent $114,000 on minimal upkeep of the building.