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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pinecrest School plans an expansion

Pinecrest School

Pinecrest School, a small private school at 7209 Quiet Cove in Annandale, is planning to expand. The school is requesting an amendment to its special exception zoning agreement to allow before-school childcare, site modifications, and an enrollment increase.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing on the proposal for March 27. The plans are also expected to be presented to the Mason District Land Use Committee on the same day.

Pinecrest has about 120 students in prekindergarten through grade 6. The school consists of two buildings. One of them is a 60-year old former house (on the right in the photo) that Head of School Nicole McDermott wants to replace with a new facility.

Once the new building is completed, Pinecrest would be able to handle a “modest increase in the number of students,” McDermott said. The new building hasn’t been designed yet, so the exact number of students hasn’t been determined. It’s also hard to know how many people will take advantage of before-school care. “We think that will make the program more appealing to families,” she said.

The advantage of Pinecrest lies in its “very small class sizes and individual attention,”  McDermott said. The maximum class size is 15 students, and some classes have as few as six or seven. Having such small classes means teachers can cover more material at a faster pace. Also, she said, “we’re as focused on emotional and social growth as much as we are on academic growth.”

Pinecrest doesn’t do formal testing of applicants. “We accept people who are the right fit,” she said. “Prospective students spend a day with us. We want to see if they are at or above grade level.”

Most students are from Annandale, Falls Church, and Alexandria, McDermott said, but there are also students from McLean, Springfield, Vienna, and all over the area. After they complete the sixth grade, about a quarter of the students go other private secondary schools; the rest go to public schools.

Annual tuition at Pinecrest is $14,250 for grades K-6 ($6,625 for half-day preschool). That’s actually less than other nearby private schools. Tuition at Westminster School on Gallows Road in Annandale is $19,344 for grades 3-8 (if paid monthly and slightly less if paid in advance). 

The Congressional Schools of Virginia on Sleepy Hollow Road, Falls Church, charges $22,700 annually for grades 1-4 and $23,994 for grades 5-8. There are additional fees at all the schools, and both Westminster and Congressional charge for bus service. Pinecrest doesn’t provide transportation.

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