Students from multiple Tacoma Public Schools learn about water safety

Students from multiple Tacoma Public Schools learn about water safety. (Courtesy of Tacoma Public Schools)

Tacoma, Wash. — This week, Port of Tacoma and Tacoma Public Schools entered into an Interlocal Agreement to provide a framework to engage in a master planning and site assessment process to support the development of a port-owned property that will include a new maritime skills center and a port maritime center to meet the business needs of the port. 

In the Spring of 2022, Tacoma Public Schools began a focused effort to study the feasibility of establishing a maritime skills center to support not only Tacoma high school students but students from school districts throughout Pierce County. The port had also been considering how to move forward with constructing a new maritime center to conduct official business as well as provide improved public access for commission meetings and other key port activities.

“In conversations with Superintendent Garcia, we realized there was a natural synergy between our plans and locating the new skills center at the port would be a great fit,” said Port Executive Director Eric Johnson. “Working to prepare future generations to fill jobs in the port, maritime and skilled trades industries is a key priority in both our Strategic Plan and Workforce Development program.”

With the Interlocal Agreement signed, the two organizations will now move forward with phase one of the project, including the feasibility of a progressive design-build process, conducting site condition assessments to find a suitable parcel of port-owned property, issuing an RFQ/RFP for a design-build firm, and planning a public involvement process.

“We are really excited to have this opportunity to partner with Tacoma Public Schools to ensure the development of the next generation of maritime workers,” said Deanna Keller, Port of Tacoma Commission President. “We are also excited to develop a vision for this new location. As we move forward, we will engage with our community and stakeholders to get their perspectives and feedback.” 

Our students are the future, and we have an obligation to help prepare them for life after graduation, but we can’t do it alone, that’s why this partnership opportunity with the Port of Tacoma is not only exciting, it is essential,” said Elizabeth Bonbright, Board President, Tacoma Public Schools.


About Maritime 253: Maritime 253 will be a regional Career and Technical Education (CTE) skills center serving high school students from multiple school districts throughout Pierce County. The curriculum, still in development, will focus on skilled and technical trades, transportation and logistics, technology and innovation, and sustainability in the maritime industry. Courses and participation will be offered at no cost to students.

About Port of Tacoma:

The Port of Tacoma is a naturally deepwater port located on Commencement Bay in south Puget Sound and among the largest container ports in the U.S. A diverse array of maritime and industrial-related businesses and facilities are located across 2,500 acres of port-owned property, including several major container terminals (managed by The Northwest Seaport Alliance) where some of the world’s largest container shipping lines call. An important economic engine in Pierce County, real estate and marine cargo operations at the Port of Tacoma support more than 42,000 jobs and $3 billion in labor income.

About Tacoma Public Schools:

Tacoma Public Schools (TPS) is one of the largest districts in Washington State serving approximately 28,000 children in preschool through grade 12. The district has 36 elementary schools, 13 middle schools, 11 high schools and four early learning centers. TPS has nearly 5,000 employees and is one of the largest employers in Tacoma.

Contact: Carol Bua, Port of Tacoma, (253) 428-8674      
Contact: Kathryn McCarthy, Tacoma Public Schools, (253) 571-1352