There is no better place to start than home.
That is part of the message that Zion Lutheran School in Pierce hopes to spread as it begins to kick off its capital campaign for its $6 million renovation project.
“Zion’s main mission is to spread the love of Jesus to students and plant the seeds in all of the students,” said Tami White, a general chairperson for the capital campaign. “And what better place than to start right where we live?”
White said a rise in enrollment and outdated facilities at the school sparked the need for the “Now is the time: Honoring our legacy, building our future” capital campaign project.
The school has 131 students enrolled, which is an increase of 80 students since 2012, according to the school’s website.
And while kindergarten to second grade at the school is taught in individual classrooms, the school has only three rooms available for third to eighth grades, and space is running out.
The number of students in the third-eighth grade classrooms is either at or reaching 25:
—25 students are in the third to fourth grade classroom.
—22 students are in the fifth to sixth grade classroom.
—19 students are in the seventh to eighth grade classroom.
Stacy Johnson, the principal of Zion Lutheran, said that although there is no required “cap” for the number of students in a classroom, 25 is usually a good stopping point.
“And we’ve reached the point where we don’t want to have to cap, but we don’t want to go above that 25 bar,” Johnson said.
Zion Lutheran’s school building is also more than a century old, and many of its facilities, plumbing and HVAC are not up to date.
There is no clear entrance to the building, as students enter the school through the kitchen.
The bathrooms are cramped, and the plumbing is past its due date.
And there are several stairs and no elevator.
White said a teacher at Zion Lutheran recently broke her leg and couldn’t make it to her classroom, which is in the basement of the building. The teacher’s husband had to carry her down and up the stairs to her class.
“All of the things that go along with a 1915 building kind of create those expected barriers,” Johnson said.
The new two-story school will be built directly south of the gym, with the main entrance of the school facing south, White said.
Learning will continue in the old school during the construction phase of the project. The gym, kitchen, lunchroom and most recent school addition will not be demolished. The original building’s school bell and sign will be preserved.
White said its 1915 building will eventually be demolished to make room for the playground, which will be relocated.
The new building will include a sloped roof, an Americans with Disabilities Act-required elevator, a video security system, more classroom and storage space and updated bathrooms.
There will also be a more clear entrance and a designated library and school office.
White said Zion Lutheran hired Steier Group, a capital campaign consulting firm, for its school renovation project. The company estimated that the school could raise around $3.3 million to $3.8 million for its project, according to the school’s website.
In the chance that Zion Lutheran cannot raise the full amount for its project through donations, the school will acquire financing through the Lutheran Church Extension Fund. The fund offers an interest rate “well below market rates,” according to the website.
However, an anonymous donor already agreed to give $500,000 towards the project, White said.
Construction is estimated to last around 18-24 months, according to White.
“The one thing that will not change is Jesus will remain the glue at Zion,” according to the school’s website.
Zion Lutheran is located at 520 E. Main St. in Pierce.