Five years ago, education choices in the northwest beach areas of Guanancaste were scarce if you were looking for a private school education.

In 2001 Country Day School (CDS), which has another campus in Escazu, purchased a commercial shopping center in Brasilito on some 35 acres.

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After extensive remodeling, and the addition of a pool, gym, and dormitory, CDS opened its doors in 2002 for elementary students and got to work on a high school.

Fast forward to 2007. Country Day School has invested some $2 million in a new facility which just opened for business. The former facility will now be used as commercial office spaces. The new school will be able to accommodate about 360 students, and although only about 160 students are expected to enroll this year, CDS is forecasting for future growth.

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Country Day school has been a monopoly of sorts in this area of Guanacaste for many years, but will see some competition this school year. Along with CDS, which follows a US based curriculum, two other schools will open its doors for quality private education in the area.

This past May 2007, six teachers from the Country Day School left to form the La Paz Community School which opened its doors this week in nearby Playa Flamingo.

La Paz Community School (LPCS) operates as a not-for-profit and will cost significantly less than tuition at CDS which costs about $8,000 per annum for day student tuition, US$16,330 per annum for five day day boarders and US$26,080 for full time boarders) and LPCS will also make 11 full scholarships available.

Abel McClennen, President of La Paz board of directors, said that 15 former CDS students will now be joining the new school this year to form a total enrollment of 52 students.

La Paz Community School (LPCS) which costs $2,500 – $4,500 per annum and has billed itself as a bilingual and multi-cultural education. Surprisingly, US students are a minority enrollment at 25%. The remainder of the students break down into 25% Costa Rican, 25% European and Canadian, and 25% mixed-family.

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Another private school, Pinilla Academy, hopes to open by February and is targeting a 75 student enrollment. They hope to aim for enrollment of at least 30% Costa Ricans. Pinilla Academy is located just south of Tamarindo and also bills itself as a truly bilingual and multi-cultural education.

They also hope to have an emphasis in Environmental education. Pinilla Academy is in the process of obtaining permits from the Ministry of Education and will also seek to be part of a Montessori program.

Although all these schools have similar educational philosophies, most agree that the geographical separation will allow different sectors to be targeted.

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Costa Rica Schools. Education at the beach

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