For those moving to a new location, it’s important to know what educational options are available. This chapter outlines the public schools system in Pierce County, along with information about local libraries and higher education. There are private schools, charter schools and home schooling available to children in the county as well.
To be enrolled in a Washington school, a child must be at least 5 years old on or before Aug. 31 of the school year. Those wishing to register their child in school should bring the following to the school office: proof of current address, a birth certificate or other proof of the child’s age, the child’s previous school records and immunization records. Check with the school for additional requirements. Required immunizations for a child enrolling in kindergarten are as follows: four or five doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis; three or four doses of polio; two doses of measles, mumps and rubella; three doses of hepatitis B; and two doses of varicella. For more details on Washington’s minimum vaccine requirements for students, visit the Washington State Department of Health’s website at www.doh.wa.gov.
In 2011, Washington, along with many other states, the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Department of Defense Education Activity, adopted Common Core State Standards that provide a consistent set of educational expectations for students, regardless of ZIP code. When a family moves, a student’s education is often disrupted because the student may be forced to repeat material or learn at a different level at the new school. With common standards across states, this disruption will be reduced — of particular interest to military families. At present, national Common Core State Standards exist only for English language arts and mathematics, though Washington has state standards across the full curriculum. For more information, visit www.corestandards.org.
Charter schools are public schools of choice that are tuition-free, serve all students and have open enrollment. For more information or a listing of charter schools in Washington, visit the Washington State Board of Education at www.sbe.wa.gov/charters.php.
For an introduction to home schooling in Washington, visit the State of Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction website at www.k12.wa.us/PrivateEd/HomeBasedEd. Here you will find information on home-school rules and regulations.
Washington Homeschool Organization
P.O. Box 66960
Seattle, WA 98166 425-251-0439
Washington Homeschool Organization is a statewide, nonprofit membership organization that serves the diverse interests of home-based education in Washington. The organization’s website provides information on home schooling in Washington, curriculum resources, local support group contacts and more.
To search for local private schools in Washington, visit the National Center for Education Statistics website and use the private school search tool at www.nces.ed.gov/surveys/pss/privateschoolsearch. Users may search by location, religious affiliation, school type and more.
Choosing a School
Choosing the right school is very important, so be sure to research each one before deciding. Contact the school by phone or by visiting its website, which is a valuable source for school district statistics and curriculum. Talk to people in the area, especially friends and colleagues who already live there.
If the school shows promise, schedule a visit and bring a list of written questions about student-teacher ratios, computer availability, extracurricular activities, sports programs, music programs, gifted programs and grading standards.
Discuss the potential school with your child: what they like and what they didn’t like. Your family’s ability to readily adapt to a move and to find happiness in your new home may depend, in part, on how happy your children are in their new school.
Auburn School District
915 Fourth St. NE
Auburn, WA 98002 253-931-4900
Auburn School District serves residents in Auburn, Algona, Pacific, Lake Tapps and unincorporated areas of nearby King County. The district has approximately 16,000 students with 14 elementary schools, four middle schools, three high schools and one alternative high school.
Bethel School District
516 176th St. E
Spanaway, WA 98387 253-683-6000
The Bethel School District in southeast Pierce County has an enrollment of more than 18,000 students. The district has 16 elementary schools, six middle schools, three senior high schools, an alternative high school, an elementary online academy, a school of choice and a skills center.
Carbonado Historical School District
427 Fourth St.
Carbonado, WA 98323 360-829-0121
The Carbonado Historical School serves children in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Clover Park School District
10903 Gravelly Lake Drive SW
Lakewood, WA 98499 253-583-5000
Clover Park School District, south of Tacoma, serves Lakewood and Joint Base Lewis-McChord communities. The district serves more than 12,000 students with 16 elementary schools, four middle schools, two senior high schools and a preparatory school.
Dieringer School District
1320 178th Ave. E
Lake Tapps, WA 98391 253-862-2537
Dieringer School District’s two elementary schools and middle school serve unincorporated areas of Pierce County.
Eatonville School District No. 404
200 Lynch St. W
Eatonville, WA 98328 360-879-1000
Eatonville School District has an enrollment of approximately 1,820. The district consists of two elementary schools, a middle school, a high school and a STEM school for K-8 students.
Fife Public Schools
5802 20th St. E
Tacoma, WA 98424 253-517-1000
The Fife school district is in the Puyallup Valley. The district includes Fife, Milton, a portion of Edgewood, part of the Port of Tacoma, and the unincorporated areas of Trout Lake, Jovita and Fife Heights. The district has one primary school, one elementary school, one intermediate school, one middle school, one junior high school and one high school. The district enrolls approximately 3,500 students.
Franklin Pierce School District No. 402
315 129th St. S
Tacoma, WA 98444 253-298-3000
Franklin Pierce School District serves unincorporated areas of Pierce County just south of Tacoma. The district’s 7,500 students are served by an early learning center, eight elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools and two alternative school programs.
Orting School District
121 Whitesell St. NE
Orting, WA 98360 360-893-6500
Orting School District serves the Orting valley community with a primary school, elementary school, middle school and high school. The district has approximately 2,300 students.
Peninsula School District
14015 62nd Ave. NW
Gig Harbor, WA 98332 253-530-1000
The Peninsula School District has an enrollment of nearly 9,000 students. The district has eight elementary schools, four middle schools, three high schools, an internet academy and a community transition program.
Puyallup School District
302 Second St. SE
Puyallup, WA 98372 253-841-1301
The Puyallup School District has 21 elementary schools, seven junior high schools, four senior high schools and an alternative school, all of which serve more than 22,250 students.
Steilacoom Historical School District No. 1
511 Chambers St.
Steilacoom, WA 98388 253-983-2200
Steilacoom Historical School District is the oldest organized school district in Pierce County. The district serves the communities of Steilacoom, DuPont and Anderson Island, as well as portions of Lakewood and unincorporated Pierce County. More than 3,000 students are enrolled in six facilities: a primary school, three elementary schools, a middle school and a high school.
Sumner School District
1202 Wood Ave.
Sumner, WA 98390 253-891-6000
Sumner School District serves nearly 9,000 students with child care and preschool programs, eight elementary schools, three middle schools, two high schools and alternative programs.
Tacoma Public Schools
601 S. Eighth St.
Tacoma, WA 98405 253-571-1000
Tacoma Public Schools is one of the largest districts in Washington. Approximately 30,000 children attend schools through the district. There are 36 elementary schools, 11 middle schools, five high schools and 14 alternative learning sites.
University Place School District
3717 Grandview Drive W
University Place, WA 98466 253-566-5600
University Place School District serves students with four primary schools, two intermediate schools, one junior high school and one high school.
White River School District
240 N. A St.
Buckley, WA 98321 360-829-0600
White River School District has four elementary schools, one middle school and one high school.
Yelm Community Schools
107 First St. N
Yelm, WA 98597 360-458-1900
Yelm Community Schools is in southeast Thurston County, but a portion of the district extends into Pierce County. More than 5,500 students are served in six elementary schools, two junior high schools, one high school and one alternative school.