LMSD enrollment is at its highest levels in more than 40 years. Enrollment surpassed 8,400 students in 2015 for the first time since the early 1970's. Since 2008, LMSD has had the second-fastest enrollment growth rate in the Commonwealth and the largest growth by total number of students. 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 re-purposed empty classrooms in the District Administration Building (formerly part of Lower Merion High School) for classroom use once again. Several classrooms are already in use and more will be occupied in the 2017-18 school year.
To accommodate capacity needs at Penn Wynne Elementary School, where there has been significant growth in recent years, the administration installed temporary classrooms prior to the 2016-17 school year with an eye on permanent classroom expansion in the next several years. Another immediate priority is Bala Cynwyd Middle School, where expanded classroom capacity is necessary in the short term to maintain existing programs.
The Board has hosted several public work sessions to review possible options for addressing facilities needs across the District. Some of the strategies discussed publicly in recent months include redistricting, expanded use of modular classrooms, a Kindergarten center, an additional elementary or middle school, shifting grade groupings at elementary schools to K-4 and middle schools to 5-8 and increasing class size, among others. No decisions have been made; public input will be important in shaping strategies and solutions. The District remains committed to maintaining adequate facilities and preserving programs in a fiscally-responsible manner.
In addition to facilities 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.