Planning for Growing Enrollment
LMSD enrollment is at its highest levels in more than 40 years. Opening day enrollment in 2015 surpassed 8,300 students for the first time since the 1973-74 school year. LMSD is now one of the fastest-growing districts in the state; based on current projections by the Montgomery County Planning Commission, enrollment could surpass 9,300 students in the next ten years. Growth has been in line with projections on aggregate, but several trends require careful monitoring, including slightly higher-than-expected growth at the elementary level. Across the District, several schools are at or nearing capacity and need additional classroom space to accommodate students.
In 2013, the Board approved four-classroom additions at both Penn Valley and Gladwyne elementary schools, a 12-classroom addition at Welsh Valley Middle School and the expansion of classroom and storage space at Bala Cynwyd Middle School. These projects have been completed. Enrollment growth will also impact both Harriton and Lower Merion high schools. To accommodate the high school population and avoid the cost of a classroom addition at Harriton, the Board moved to re-purpose empty classrooms in the District Administration Building (formerly part of Lower Merion High School) for classroom use once again. These renovations will be completed prior to the start of the 2017-18 school year.
An immediate priority is providing additional classroom space at Penn Wynne Elementary School, where there has been significant growth in recent years. The administration is recommending the installation of temporary classrooms at Penn Wynne for 2016-17 with an eye on permanent classroom expansion in the next several years.
A comprehensive traffic study was conducted in October 2013 to explore the impact of enrollment growth at LMHS. The study indicated that buses will need to be removed from the LMHS campus during the summer of 2016 to make room for additional staff, student and visitor parking as required by Lower Merion Township regulations. The traffic study indicates a continuing parking deficit due the increased enrollment at the high school level after 2015-16. The District will ultimately need to remove the 24 buses currently parked at the LMHS campus in order to provide the necessary additional staff and student parking.
In addition to facilities and parking considerations, enrollment growth will affect programmatic planning, staffing, scheduling and other key school functions. The District is already working to address and plan for potential impacts in these areas.
For more information on enrollment growth and its impacts, please visit the links and resources in this section.