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Lower Merion High School


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April 2024 Transportation Update

Dear LMSD Families,

The safety of our students is paramount, and our Board and Leadership Team appreciate the ongoing collaboration we have had with many members of our community regarding the proposed changes to the high-school walk zone for the 2024-2025 school year.

We have worked with PennDOT to develop a comprehensive understanding of the safety of the intersections and roadways our students travel as they walk to and from school. As promised, I am sharing an update with you regarding transportation for the upcoming 2024-2025 school year, when LMSD Smart Start and universal full-day kindergarten will begin.

Walk Zone

Earlier this year, to meet the transportation needs related to implementing both LMSD Smart Start and universal full day kindergarten, we proposed expanding the high school walk zone from one mile to 1.5 miles. While this change creates the needed efficiencies within our complex transportation system, many families impacted expressed concerns about and opposition to the change.

After reviewing the documentation about hazardous and non-hazardous intersections and roadways in the Township, we believe there are sufficient safe walking routes to school, and that retaining a 1.5-mile walk zone could be implemented safely. That said, we strive to be responsive to the concerns expressed by our community; therefore, we have decided to retain a one-mile walk zone for our high school students for next year.

You have heard me say before that we are fortunate to be in a community that is rich in resources; however, resources are not unlimited. We have shared time and again the reality of the bus driver shortage impacting Lower Merion and virtually all other districts. While we continue to recruit drivers and have implemented paid training and sign-on bonuses, retaining a substantial workforce is now more challenging than ever. The decision to retain the one-mile walk zone requires compromises elsewhere in the system. For example, some middle school buses will need to run earlier than planned and some high school buses will run later.

  • No LMSD middle school students will be picked up prior to 7:00 a.m.
  • Some middle school buses may arrive at our middle schools as early as 7:30 a.m.  Supervision will be provided to the students who arrive on those buses; however, doors will not open to any other middle-school students until 7:45 a.m.
  • Some high school buses may arrive very close to or even after 8:30 a.m., when the high-school day begins. High school students whose buses arrive without sufficient time for them to get to their first set on time will have their late arrivals excused.

We will be better positioned to provide more accurate bus timing in early June, when most students have registered, allowing much of the routing work to be complete. As a community, we will need to exercise flexibility, grace and understanding. I trust that we will all meet this challenge!

Voluntary Transportation Opt-Out

To further assist with transportation efficiencies, we are implementing a Transportation Opt-Out process. Traditionally, All LMSD students who are eligible for bus transportation to and from school are included when bus routes are planned. For the 2024-25 school year, families who do not live in a walk zone will be able to opt out of LMSD transportation and are encouraged to do so if they know their child(ren) will not be using their seat on an LMSD bus. Please know that the transportation opt-out program will not impact your child(ren)’s ability to ride District-provided transportation to attend field trips, CMTHS, work programs, activities/sports, emergency evacuations, etc.

If you do not wish to opt out, no action is necessary. If you wish to opt out of bus transportation, sign into the PowerSchool Parent Portal and complete the Transportation Opt-Out form in the “eCollect Forms” section for each child. Please submit your opt-out request by June 30th. 

Families who opt-out of transportation do not forfeit their right to transportation and may opt back in at any time. If you opt back in, you must allow up to 10 business days for transportation services to be reinstated. Opt-in requests submitted between June 1, 2024, and September 30, 2024, will be processed after October 1st.

Parking Passes

Harriton and Lower Merion High School students who receive a parking pass for the 2024-2025 school year will not be provided bus transportation to and from school. This will allow the District to realize efficiencies and reallocate vehicles to other transportation routes. Students with parking passes will still be able to ride District-provided transportation to attend field trips, CMTHS, work programs, activities/sports, emergency evacuations, etc.

Next Steps

Between now and the beginning of June, our Transportation Department will be working on routing for the 2024-2025 school year, in addition to their daily task of transporting more than 9,000 students to 130 sites. Families should not expect further communication about transportation-related items until early June.

The implementation of new programs such as LMSD Smart Start and universal full-day kindergarten requires change and compromise, as we work to balance student health and safety, community priorities and logistical realities. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we do this important work.


Steven M. Yanni, Ed.D.

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