Browns Point Elementary School

BPES - Main Entry Rendering.jpg

​​​News & updates

6/23/17 update

Thank you to the teachers, families and community members who have provided feedback over the last few weeks, and to those who we got a chance to talk with during months of design advisory committee meetings, meetings with staff, the different school and community events, neighborhood council updates, this week’s open house or the many recent small group meeting opportunities. 

Following the release of the revised Browns Point Elementary School Replacement Project design last month, we heard some excitement about the impending project's safety and technology improvements as well as adjustments since the last design, including increased classroom size, moving the library upstairs, and expanding the performance and commons areas.

We also clearly heard concerns from staff and the community that had common themes — primarily centered around future student capacity, proximity of special education spaces and services, and location and configuration of the stage and music room.

In response, we worked with TCF Architecture and identified design adjustments that addressed these primary themes without adding cost to the project. This included:

  • Clustering special education classrooms and support services all on the first floor rather than the first and second floors.
  • Expanding the stage and creating a separate music room by adjusting an exterior wall.
  • Increasing the number of classroms by converting a double-size project lab space into two classrooms. Adjustments to the four large shared areas, where there will be large art sinks, allow for related lessons and programming to be able to happen in more places throughout the building. Also, one classroom space remains designated as an art room/project lab as well. The expanded commons, upstairs library area or outdoor courtyard can be used for multi-classroom learning opportunities.

With these alterations, we believe the added classroom and flexible spaces address the primary themes. We are excited to move forward on this project, and bring this community asset to reality.

About the project

The new Browns Point Elementary School building will be built adjacent to the existing old Meeker Middle School building where the tennis courts currently are. Download the site plan

During construction, students will continue to attend classes in the original Browns Point Elementary School building and old Meeker Middle School building.

Once the new school is complete and students have moved in, the old Meeker Middle School building will be demolished and additional parking added.

The district will retain the original Browns Point Elementary School building (including classrooms, a gym, cafeteria and stage). With some improvements, this building could accommodate future school growth or community uses. 

Tacoma’s new school buildings incorporate the district’s vision for kid-centered, flexible spaces. And it’s clearly different than the sprawling former middle-school-sized campus that the neighborhood is used to.

We take our role in this transition seriously, and Browns Point will have an instructional facilitator who will help mentor our teachers as they adapt to the new spaces, the new vision and new amenities. This school-specific coaching has won over many skeptics at our other new schools, including Washington, Wainwright and McCarver.  At Browns Point, that work begins next year and continues when the teachers move into the building the following year.  

About the project

Browns Point Elementary School currently includes kindergarten through fifth grade. The existing facility, on 18.72 acres, consists of two buildings, the original 1952 Browns Point Elementary (23,965 square feet) and the original 1960 ​​Meeker Middle School (50,813 square feet). 

The new Browns Point Elementary is designed to be approximately 59,000 square feet of innovative learning spaces.  The original Browns Point Elementary School building will be retained for future use.


Square footage: 56,000 or 59,000 (depending on budget and bids)
Student capacity: 500-550 (depending on budget and bids)
Projected budget: $31 million
 August 2015 - April 2017
Construction: June 2017 - August 2018​​​
Anticipated opening: Fall/Winter of the 2018-19 school year
Architect: TCF Architects
Contractor: Skanska USA

Site plans, logistics

6/13/17 update

Site plan 

Floor 1 

Floor 2 


Construction phasing logistics 

Site logistics, including plans for student drop off and pickup, will evolve over the course of the project. During construction, student drop off and pickup will remain along 51st Street Northeast.

Answers to questions from the May 18 PTA meeting (updated June 2)

Answers to questions fro the June 15 Northeast Tacoma Neighborhood Council meeting (udpated June 23)

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Frequently Asked Questions

Will the new school be big enough to accommodate future growth?

This question has come up repeatedly over the last several weeks. Growth and enrollment is an ongoing evaluation for Northeast Tacoma and throughout the entire district. While Northeast Tacoma is not expected to see significant overall growth compared to other areas of the city and county, we do understand it will experience some growth.

Across Tacoma the target capacity for the majority of our new elementary schools is 450 students. At Browns Point, however, we are building for a minimum of 500.

Due to community concerns over capacity, we have done additional analysis of demographic and enrollment data on the Browns Point/Northeast Tacoma region. Here’s how we know the future school will have plenty of space:

  • According to our spring enrollment numbers, there were 374 total students from the Browns Point boundary area currently enrolled in Tacoma Public Schools.
  • Of those students, 344 attended Browns Point Elementary.
  • The total enrollment at Browns Point Elementary in March was 429.
  • The difference in headcounts is a mix of students choosing to attend schools outside of their catchment thanks to Tacoma Public Schools’ Choice Enrollment policies.
  • If every student who lives within the Browns Point boundary area went to the school when it opens, the school would be less than 75 percent full.
  • Enrollment for this coming fall is 408 students, including students who enrolled from other areas of Tacoma and from outside the school district. If that number of students enrolled in the newly built school with a base capacity of 500 students, it still would be at just 81 percent of capacity and could accommodate many more students.

We are confident that there is plenty of space to accommodate learning at the future Browns Point Elementary School as currently designed.

If, by some chance, we experience higher-than-expected growth in student enrollment in the Browns Point region, Tacoma Public Schools has many ways of accommodating more growth.

For example, while the former Meeker Middle School campus will be demolished, we are keeping the original Browns Point Elementary School building for future school and community use. This part of the campus includes additional classrooms, gym, cafeteria and stage. We can easily repurpose that space.

Other options include:

  • Reducing the number of students from outside the Browns Point Elementary boundary area, including students from outside of Tacoma, who can opt in to attend there through a Choice Enrollment application.
  • Adjusting elementary school boundaries among the three regional elementary schools to balance out enrollment. 
  • Adding on to the building.

We will receive construction bids from contractors in September. Based on those bids, there is the possibility of building the school to a capacity to 550. If this additional classroom space is not included in the current project due to cost, we have designed and permitted the project to be able to add the classrooms in a future phase if increased enrollment requires it. 

What neighborhoods do BPES students come from?

Below shows the enrollment breakdown of students at Browns Point Elementary School by grade and by catchment area for both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school year. Numbers are as of 6/23/17.

Student count at Browns Point for 2016-17 (as of 6/23/17)

201617 enrollment snip.JPG

Student count at Browns Point for 2017-18 (as of 6/23/17)

201718 enrollmentsnip.JPG

Additional demographic information

Tacoma Public School demographics summary - June 5, 2017

Tacoma School District Enrollment Trends and Projections - January 2017

Northeast Tacoma student forecasting by elementary catchment area based on 2015 enrollment numbers

Updated enrollment comparison chart.JPG

The district’s data analysis consultant, Flo Analytics, studies a wide range of data sources including information from city and county planners, information collected from the district’s demographer, small-area population and housing forecasts from the Puget Sound Regional Council Land Use Vision and ESRI U.S. Demographic Forecasts, and building permits by address from the PSRC Residential Building Permit summaries and Construction Monitor.

What about preschool?

The original Browns Point Elementary School building, including classrooms, cafeteria, gym and stage, will be retained for future school and community use, including potential preschool needs. The building will receive some improvements to accommodate this need.

What is the timeline for bids?

The Browns Point Elementary School Replacement Project uses an alternative contracting process called General Contractor/Contract Management that brings the contractor on early in the process to work with the architect during the design stage. This contracting method is generally used during complex projects, such as a historical modernization or, in the case at Browns Point Elementary, the safety considerations involved with a site that is occupied during construction. 

Next steps in this process include:

  • June 26 - Submit the design for permitting. The permitting process will include the two additional classrooms that might be included in this phase, or a future addition. Including these classrooms, or adding them later, would bring the building to a capacity of 550 students, which is on the higher end of the capacity range for Tacoma elementary schools.

  • July 7 – The contractor opens site work bids.

  • July/August - Board consideration of site work costs.

  • September - Begin site work once permitting is approved.

  • Late September – The contractor opens bids for building construction costs and works with the district to determine which bid alternates will be recommended for board consideration.

  • October – Board consideration of construction work costs and what alternates to include.

  • November – Building construction begins.

When will we know the official size of the building?

The final project scope, budget and recommended alternates will be presented to the board for consideration in October. 

When does construction begin?

Some underground utilities and site work will begin later this summer. The main construction work is anticipated to begin in October or November, depending on the permitting process.

When is the new building expected to open?

Expected opening is late Fall/Winter during the 2018-19 school year.

Where will students go to school during construction?

Due to the large size of the Browns Point Elementary campus, the new school will be built adjacent to the existing buildings and students will remain in the current building during construction.

What will happen to the old buildings?

After construction is complete, the plan is to tear down the old Meeker Middle School portion of the campus. The original 1951 Browns Point Elementary School will be kept for future school and community use.

For more information, contact Facilities Communication Coordinator Alicia Lawver at


6/5/17 Update

How will future growth impact Browns Point Elementary capacity?

According to City planners, Northeast Tacoma does not have significant development capacity, and significant change is not expected in the overall density or residential building types in this area. While Pierce County is expected to experience significant population growth over the coming decades, most of the growth and associated enrollment increases are expected to occur in Tacoma's mixed use centers and suburban communities outside Tacoma.

The City of Tacoma is expected to plan for an additional 127,000 residents by 2040, which planners describe as a planning figure only and not a forecast. To accommodate that potential number, planners estimate an additional 59,000 new units for both residents and the loss of existing units due to conversion for new construction. About 80 percent of that growth is expected to be accommodated within the City's Mixed Use Centers, such as Downtown. There are no designated Mixed Use Centers in Northeast Tacoma.

Also, while Tacoma is experiencing population growth, the rate of school-age children per household has been dropping, and the rate of enrollment growth is much less than suburban centers elsewhere in Pierce County.

The new Browns Point Elementary is designed to accommodate approximately 500 students; current student enrollment is 423 with similar expected for 2017-18. If demand exceeds this amount, two classrooms that are currently project alternates could be added on if they aren't included in this phase. Also, the original Browns Point Elementary School building will be retained to address early learning and other potential needs.

Tacoma Public School demographics summary - June 5, 2017

Tacoma School District Enrollment Trends and Projections - January 2017

Questions? Email Alicia Lawver, Facilities Communication Coordinator, at

6/1/17 Update

Addressing key concerns, answering community questions

In response to some concerns about the revised Browns Point Elementary School Replacement project, the Planning and Construction department worked with TCF Architects to make some adjustments to address core teacher and parent concerns around capacity, location of special education, and proximity of the music room and stage.

Key changes incorporated in this layout since May 18:

  • Classroom space has been maximized to include additional classroom spaces, not including two classrooms that are part of the project alternates if funding allows.
  • Special education classes have been moved to the first floor in proximity to other support services.
  • The music room has been separated from the stage area by moving the wall adjacent to the courtyard.
  • The old Browns Point Elementary School building is identified for future preschool, early learning center or other school or community needs.

5/26/17 Update

Meetings set to respond to BPES design concerns

Thank you to the Northeast Tacoma community for reaching out to our Planning & Construction team, senior leadership and the school board regarding updates to the Browns Point Elementary School Replacement Project design. We are listening to your concerns, and met with the architect on Thursday to consider solutions to many of your concerns.

Major themes we are hearing include:

  • Concern about student capacity and future growth
  • Location of the music room and stage
  • Location of special services
  • Communication with the community

TPS response:

Regarding capacity and space location, we are currently working on a design solution that will maximize the number of classroom spaces. This effort also includes adjustments to the music room and stage space, and locating special services more closely with other support services on the first floor. We look forward to sharing the results with you and the Northeast Tacoma community.

We will also be talking with our demographer, and city and county experts, to confirm expectations about future growth and enrollment.

Upcoming outreach plans include:

Thank you again to our Northeast Tacoma community for sharing their concerns. We appreciate the passion you have for Tacoma youth, and we look forward to bringing you a new school that supports and celebrates our student-centered vision for elementary education.

We will continue to update information opportunities as they are scheduled. For questions or suggestions, please email

5/25/17 Update

Browns Point design update information coming

Thank you to the many community members who have emailed regarding concerns about the Browns Point Elementary School Replacement Project. The Planning and Construction department is reviewing your comments and looking at solutions that can meet the needs of students, staff and the community members who live in Northeast Tacoma.

Updates will be posted here, including answers to or context about the questions we are receiving.

A series of small-group discussions are being scheduled for the week of June 12. Once dates and times are confirmed we will make them available for community members to sign up. 

5/16/17 Update

Curious about the design for the new Browns Point Elementary?

Construction begins on the Browns Point Elementary School Replacement Project this fall, with site prep work starting this summer.  TCF Architecture and representatives from Tacoma Public Schools Planning & Construction are reaching out to different audiences over the coming weeks and months. Current scheduled dates include:

  • Wednesday, May 17 - Update to Browns Point Elementary staff
  • Thursday, May 18, 6 p.m. - Presentation to the Browns Point PTA, Browns Point Elementary library
  • Thursday, May 18, 6 p.m. - Presentation to the Northeast Tacoma Neighborhood Council, Center at Norpoint, 4818 Nassau Ave.
  • Friday, May 19, 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. - Information booth at the all-school barbecue
  • More opportunities will be scheduled soon

SEPA Determination of Non-Significance

We are pleased to report that progress is being made on the design of the new Browns Point Elementary School to replace the existing facility. We have entered into the environmental review process and the responsible official has issued a Determination of Non-Significance for this project, noting that this proposal will not have significant adverse impact on the environment. 

The State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process is a state requirement intended to ensure state and local agencies consider the likely environmental consequences of a proposed project before the project begins. The City of Tacoma also requires submittal of SEPA materials as part of the building and site development permit review. 

The below documents are available for public and agency review for the Browns Point Elementary School Replacement project:

If you wish to submit comments on the project, please email or send written comments to Robert Sawatzky, Director of Planning and Construction, 3223 S. Union Ave., Tacoma, WA 98409. Deadline was Oct. 14, 2016.

Project update - 7/6/16 - Skanska USA selected as General Contractor

The Tacoma School Board on June 23 approved Skanska USA Building Inc. to build the replacement Browns Point Elementary in Northeast Tacoma through a process known as General Contractor/Construction Manager. This is an alternative to the traditional process of hiring the construction contractor after building design is complete.   This project delivery method brings the contractor on earlier to team with the architectural and engineering consultants as the design further develops.
This project will replace the old 1960 Meeker Middle School building currently used as part of the Browns Point campus. The original 1952 Browns Point Elementary building will remain for future use.
Skanska's local work includes the landmark Museum of Glass, MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital and the modernization of Stadium High School. Skanska soon will wrap up work on two Tacoma school modernizations: McCarver Elementary and Stewart Middle School. Skanska also worked on two Clover Park School District facilities using the GC/CM process. 

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