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Fairfax officials fast-track prep work for Dunn Loring elementary

Growth in corridor necessitates a new building where an old school stood from 1930s to 1970s

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors agreed Feb. 6 to speed up processing of Fairfax County Public Schools’ application to build a new elementary school in Dunn Loring.

The county’s Department of Planning and Development will conduct concurrent and expedited processing of the school system’s site-plan and zoning applications for the school, which would be located on the northwest side of the intersection of Idylwood Drive and Gallows Road.

The Fairfax County School Board requested such processing to maintain the school system’s capital-improvement-program schedule, said Supervisor Dalia Palchik (D-Providence), who requested the expedited processing.

The new school, which would be named Dunn Loring Elementary School, would replace the existing two-story Dunn Loring Administrative Center building on the 9.97-acre site. The property’s western section now also has a soccer field, benches, picnic table, sheds, trash cans and classroom trailers.

According to the school system’s Jan. 25 statement of justification, the existing administrative building was constructed in 1938 and initially used – ah, how history so often repeats! – as Dunn Loring Elementary School. The Board of Supervisors in the 1970s shuttered the school because of declining enrollment.

But with schools now overcrowded in Dunn Loring, Tysons and Falls Church, the school system said the new facility – with an estimated capacity of 1,003 students – would provide some relief.

County voters in a 2021 school-bond referendum approved funds for the new Dunn Loring school’s planning and design. The school’s architecture would feature brick, metal panels and glass, and the design would be highly energy efficient, FCPS officials said.

The site now is split between the R-1 and R-5 zoning districts. Because the proposed 125,905-square-foot facility’s floor-area ratio – which compares the gross floor area of a site’s buildings against the property’s square footage – would be 0.33, the school system would need to rezone the R-1 section of the site to the R-4 district.

The school would have four levels. The ground-floor level would have a main entrance and reception area, cafeteria, workrooms, staff lounge, music rooms, and general-music and instrumental-music classrooms.

The second level would be occupied by kindergarten, third-grade and special-education classrooms, while the third level would have classrooms for art and first and second grades. The fourth level would be home to fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms.

FCPS plans to build a new soccer/softball field on the site’s western side as well as four new playgrounds, including an 8,295-square-foot modular playground, 2,009-square-foot and 11,373-square-foot paved play areas, and a 3,318-square-foot playground.

FCPS would provide “substantial” landscaping along Idylwood and Gallows roads and save existing trees on the site’s northern and western areas. A new 5-foot-wide sidewalk would link up with the existing walkway along Idylwood Road.

Vehicles would be able to access the site from two points along Idylwood Road. There would be 116 parking spaces on the property, including seven handicapped-accessible ones.

School buses would access the property via the new entryway and drop off students at the main entrance. A separate kiss-and-ride area for parents dropping off students would be located on the site’s northern area and would be separated from the bus drop-off zone, so as to avoid traffic conflicts.

Palchik said she anticipated the school system would conduct additional community outreach to obtain feedback regarding the zoning application. The school system has been engaging, and will continue to do so, with the county’s History Commission to ensure commemoration of the historic site, she said.