Dear PWES Families,
Yesterday, the Lower Merion School District filed a land development application and a construction permit for a new hardtop play area at Penn Wynne Elementary School. The Board of School Directors will have to vote on whether to approve construction of the play area, but the paperwork was filed now in consideration of both our students' needs and proposed changes to the Township's zoning.
The primary motivation for making this improvement is, of course, our constant consideration of our students' best interest. The new play area would provide additional outdoor space for recess, especially during periods of inclement weather, when students can't play safely on the wet grass. As our enrollment increases, the existing hard surfaces become more crowded. Ensuring adequate space for active, physical play is a vital part of a well-rounded elementary school experience. The new play area would allow our students to safely run, play and expend energy, which in turn promotes a healthy lifestyle and supports better classroom learning.
In addition, we are doing this now after careful reading of the new zoning code that the Township Commissioners voted to advertise Wednesday night. That vote was a first step toward adopting the new code that will affect all future construction in Lower Merion Township. Language in the proposed code could limit LMSD's future ability to modernize and expand our schools to meet enrollment demands. If we don't apply to expand the play area at PWES now, we likely will not be able to do so in the future, regardless of our students' needs.
As we have pointed out to our Township Commissioners, our public schools serve ALL the children of Lower Merion and Narberth, no matter how many new families move here. Unlike private schools, we do not limit enrollment. Even though we cannot control the number of students our schools serve, some of the language in the proposed zoning code gives private schools more flexibility about how to use their space than it gives LMSD.
We take pride in the education we provide to our students. We believe that the excellence of our schools benefits not only our students and their families, but the community as a whole. Our LMSD families value small class sizes, great educators, and modern facilities. While our growing enrollment poses challenges, we continue to work to ensure those priorities will be respected and protected moving forward.
Dr. Melissa R. Gilbert
Lower Merion Board of School Directors
Lower Merion School District