Planning for Growing Enrollment
LMSD enrollment is at its highest levels in more than 40 years. Opening day enrollment in 2021 was more than 8,700 students for the first time since the early 1970's. LMSD is the fastest-growing District in Pennsylvania by total number of students over the past eight years and 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, multiple schools are at or nearing capacity and require additional classroom space to accommodate students.
In 2018, the Board began the process of acquiring land to build a new middle school for grades 5-8. Plans call for the new school to be located at 1860 Montgomery Avenue with field space at 1800 W. Montgomery Ave. and 1835 County Line Rd. Spiezle Architects will design the new school and have held numerous meetings with stakeholder groups to gain knowledge and insight to guide the design process. Building a third middle school and moving fifth grade from elementary to middle school is a long-term solution that will help alleviate over-crowding concerns across all the existing elementary and middle school buildings. The new school is expected to open in Fall 2022.
Until that time, numerous temporary steps have been taken to provide needed classroom capacity. 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. 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. The District also installed temporary classrooms at Penn Wynne Elementary School for 2016-17 and at Bala Cynwyd for 2017-18. Additional temporary classrooms or renovations will likely be necessary until the third middle school is open.
In addition to facilities and parking considerations, enrollment growth affects programmatic planning, staffing, transportation, 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.