As we move forward in an era of unprecedented enrollment growth and fiscal uncertainty, we remain dedicated to maintaining the opportunities that bring vitality and depth to the LMSD experience. This effort continues to require judicious and conservative budgeting. Lower Merion School District has long been recognized for outstanding achievement in a variety of quantitative indicators. This year is no different; LMSD students achieved the highest scores in the state among non-admission based schools on the ACT exam (increasingly the college entrance test of choice) and the District continues to be named one of the Top 10 school systems in the United States by Niche.
This year's tax increase of 2.48% is among the lowest increases in the past 30 years and is necessary to preserve existing programs and cover new costs related to the growing student population as well as state and Federal mandates. The District will continue to review all areas of the budget to identify opportunities for cost-savings and greater efficiencies while preserving a culture of opportunity and access. An environment of fiscal stability provides an important foundation for the ongoing success of our students and schools.
It is our goal to continue offering an outstanding public education and maintain our well-deserved place at the top of the nation's best. While these rankings can fluctuate, as a District, we work hard for and are always proud of these accomplishments. We also recognize that there are many "qualitative" experiences and opportunities that can't be measured by these standings that prepare students for the world beyond our walls.
Among the most impactful of these experiences in LMSD is community service. At all levels, students and staff annually dedicate thousands of hours and devote their passion and energy to local and global efforts. This year, our school community collected supplies for US troops, raised funds for leukodystrophy research, helped launch Science Olympiad programs in underserved schools, provided free instrumental music lessons to students in need, delivered meals to young transplant patients, cleaned-up local hiking trails, built two schools in Haiti, and honored the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with an annual District-wide Afternoon of Service. Another recent effort included the entire LMHS student body (more than 1400 students) participating in a heartwarming music video with elementary students from Philadelphia's Webster Elementary School – capping a year-long partnership that included mentorship and fundraising for school supplies. (Additional service highlights and "points of pride" can be found on the reverse side of this letter.) These are just a few examples of how students are living the LMSD motto of "Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve." They are collaborating, engaging, and learning in ways that can't be measured on a test, yet they are building essential skills that will help them become successful, contributing members of society. This kind of learning and the related benefits – to self and society – are an essential part of our schools and integral to our strategic plan. So too are myriad other programs and experiences that enable kids to explore, grow and achieve in ways that can't be easily quantified. We are grateful to the community for its steadfast support of public education. Like student success, this support can be measured in part through quantitative indicators - like tax dollars and strong property values. Most important, however, is your belief in and commitment to providing diverse opportunities for children to learn, lead, achieve and serve.
Thank you for your continued support of our schools.
Robert Copeland, Superintendent
*To view a PDF version of this letter, including the District's recent Points of Pride, click here.