Birney Elementary School Replacement

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News & Updates

​Dirt flies as Birney students, staff break ground on new school

Check out this fun video of students’ reactions to seeing their new school for the first time at an assembly marking the start of construction. The library and cafeteria certainly took home the unofficial awards for the loudest cheers of the day. After the student body celebrated in an assembly, six lucky students and long-time teacher Mary Bullock grabbed a shovel to dig into the site where their new school will stand.

Construction starts soon and is scheduled for completion in fall 2019. Students will stay in the existing building while their new building goes up.

Check out all the photos from the day.

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New building details

The new Birney can accommodate 550 students (including preschoolers) in its 60,000 square feet. The building replaces all of the existing structures and portables, which total to about the same size. The new one-story building will stand on the west border of the 8.68-acre property, with its main entrance moving from South 76th Street to South Sheridan Avenue.

Four classroom wings connect to the learning commons, with the wings organized so classrooms can expand into a flexible shared learning space as well as to the adjacent courtyards.

Outdoor play areas, including a synthetic field, will sit on the north end of the property.

Birney students will remain in the existing building during construction— expected to start in June. The new school is scheduled to open in fall 2019, after which the district will hire a contractor to demolish the old building.

About the Project

Project Overview

Birney Elementary is home to three Deaf and Hard of Hearing Programs for preschool through fifth grade. Birney also offers a special education program and HeadStart preschool. Birney currently serves approximately 470 students in Tacoma's South End. The current building was built in 1962, with the addition of a gymnasium and resource room in 1972.

Students will remain on site during construction. 

Take a look at McGranahan's January 2018 Presentation, which details what the new Birney will offer. 

Student capacity: 450-500 students
Projected budget: $37.1 million   
Architect: McGranahan Architects  
Design: September 2016 - March 2018  
Contractor: Turner Construction
Construction: June 2018 - August 2019 
Expected opening: Fall 2019

This project is funded by the $500 million school construction bond voters passed in 2013.

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While construction doesn't begin until summer 2018, we know many people will have questions now. Email your ideas and questions to

News & Updates

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