Lower Merion School District

301 East Montgomery Avenue Ardmore, PA 19003-3399 Phone: 610-645-1930 Fax: 610-645-0703 www.lmsd.org Christopher McGinley, Ed. D. Superintendent of Schools

January 15, 2009 Dear LMSD Community,

On Monday night, the Board of School Directors approved a redistricting plan that seeks to fulfill the goals of the District's high school modernization process. The approval of the plan is an important milestone in the effort to achieve enrollment balance at the District's two new high schools. The Board's vote comes five years after a Community Advisory Committee recommended the construction of two schools of equal size to replace outdated, existing facilities and create learning communities of ideal and equal size. The CAC determined that two schools of equal size would facilitate more equitable academic and co-curricular opportunities for all LMSD high school students. Next fall, the new Harriton High School will open. The new Lower Merion High School will open in September 2010. These state-of-the-art facilities represent the culmination of the District's 15-year capital improvement program - a program that has encompassed all ten of the district's elementary, middle and high schools. The redistricting plan maintains the existing attendance areas and walk zones at our elementary and middle schools. The official LMHS walk zone (see www.lmsd.org for a map) remains as a "choice" attendance area at the high school level. Students residing in the walk zone would have the choice of attending Lower Merion High School or Harriton High School. District transportation would only be provided to those students in the walk zone who choose to attend Harriton and those who meet a Board-established exception. The plan also maintains the current option of District-wide choice for Harriton. Any student residing in the Township may choose to attend Harriton regardless of their location and receive Districtprovided transportation. The plan also introduces new curricular opportunities at Harriton, providing programmatic reasons for students to choose Harriton. The District is working to implement a dual-enrollment partnership with Penn State University that would enable high school students to earn up to 13 Penn State credits, with a focus on business education, as part of their regular high school course load. As with the International Baccalaureate program, any student in the Township could choose to attend Harriton High School to take advantage of this new opportunity. Additional highlights of the plan: Students may elect to stay with peers by following assigned feeder pattern K-12 Follows the current feeder patterns and creates disruption for fewer students Allows for a mixed high school population at each school through the option area or choice programs Maintains grandfathering for all current high school students

The next phase of redistricting is implementation of the plan and the associated transition process for students, families and the community. We are identifying ways in which parents can become engaged in working to ensure that our students moving to high school are well supported throughout this process. On Thursday, January 22, a transition meeting is being held for all parents of 8th grade students who will be attending Lower Merion High School or Harriton High School as 9th graders in the fall of 2009. This meeting will be held in the auditorium of LMHS beginning at 7:00 PM and will be conducted by administrators and school counselors from both high schools. Parents of all 8th grade students are encouraged to attend this informative meeting. Planning for effective 9th grade transition is important, but it is not the only issue of concern moving forward. At times, the redistricting process has been challenging and emotionally-charged; the District has received nearly 1,500 emails and numerous comments at public forums regarding the most recent plans - some in support and some in opposition. With the approval of a plan on Monday, the District administration and Board recognize a larger responsibility to restore trust and confidence among dissenting stakeholders, particularly within the affected communities of Ardmore, Narberth and Penn Valley. With that said, I want to bring attention to an item stemming from Monday’s Board meeting. As you may know, the meeting was marked at times by strong, passionate opinions and no small degree of discord. The administration made a heat-of-the-moment decision for which I want to apologize. In order to respect a Board member’s ability to speak uninterrupted, we decided to edit a section of tape from the meeting where a member of the public spoke out of turn. Certainly, the speaker’s behavior was problematic and his actions brought the meeting to a halt. We respect, however, that his emotions were driven by strong feelings about what he believed was right for his children and community. While our policy might have allowed us to edit the tape, it is clear that the edit has had unintended consequences and the decision added more fuel to an already hot fire. This is not the way we wish to move forward and this is not the signal we want to send to our community. The unedited tape will be available for viewing in full on our cable channel and website beginning this evening. This is a time that calls for understanding and healing. There are immediate issues such as access that we can begin to address, but there are deeper issues that also need to be discussed, examined and worked through so that we can again stand together as one community in support of our students. We have the resolve and the resources to help make this happen and we will do all we can to honor and advance this commitment. We welcome your questions, comments, suggestions and active participation during this critical phase of transition. Email may be directed to capitalcomments@lmsd.org or via mail c/o Fran Keaveney, Board Secretary, 301 E. Montgomery Ave., Ardmore, PA 19003. Thank you for your continued support of our schools and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2009. Sincerely,

Christopher McGinley, Ed.D

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