Tacoma Public Schools receives state approval for Maritime|253 skills center, opening the door to enroll students next school year
Maritime 253 Student on boat

Tacoma Public Schools (TPS) is one step closer to making the Maritime|253 Skills Center a reality. Last week, the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) granted a two-year conditional approval of the skill center’s core programs.

Maritime|253 will be a regional Career and Technical Education center serving high school students from school districts throughout Pierce County. This major milestone gives TPS the ability to develop courses, formalize inter-district agreements and enroll students for the 2024-2025 school year.

In March, TPS and the Port of Tacoma entered into a partnership to begin a planning process for co-locating Maritime|253 along with a new Port Maritime Center on a parcel of Port-owned property. The proposed location for the project is along the east side of the Foss Waterway, where the Wheeler-Osgood Company mill once operated. Last month, BNBuilders/TCF Architecture was selected as the design-build team for the project.

The Port is in the process of conducting a cultural resource and environmental assessment of the proposed site. Located in the heart of an original spuyaləpabš village site, the Port recognizes the historical and cultural significance of the project area and is committed to continued consultation and coordination with the Puyallup Tribe. Extensive cultural resource testing and environmental protection efforts will continue to move forward in order to protect Tribal history.

Next steps:

TPS will continue the design-build process and solidify inter-district agreements with districts that supported the preliminary application process with OSPI. Additionally, over the course of the 2023-2024 school year, TPS will engage design teams to develop programs and curriculum in established and innovative pathways that include:

  • Advanced Manufacturing and Skilled Trades
  • Maritime Operations, Transportation and Logistics
  • Maritime/Marine Science Technology
  • Maritime Sustainability

The pathways have been carefully selected to meet the evolving needs of the maritime industry and to prepare students for promising careers in high-demand fields.

After the site selection is finalized, the Port of Tacoma and Tacoma Public Schools each plan to conduct community outreach throughout the development and design process.

At the end of the 2026–2027 school year, OSPI will conduct a review looking at program offerings and enrollment.

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