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Lower Merion

School District

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

May 9, 2013 Dear Parents/Guardians, I write to you this evening to remind you about the Monday, May 13th Board of School Directors meeting to discuss high school enrollment issues and the proposal to expand the Lower Merion High School choice area. The choice area is the area in which students who attend Welsh Valley Middle School have the option of attending Lower Merion High School instead of Harriton High School. The meeting will begin at 8:00 PM in the Lower Merion High School auditorium. Since November 2011 we have been discussing the increase in student enrollment in public School Board meetings. In the fall we began focusing on how we can accommodate the growing number of students in our elementary and middle schools. These discussions led to an approval of plans for additional classrooms at Gladwyne, Penn Valley, Welsh Valley and Bala Cynwyd. Information from previous meetings, presentations and studies about student enrollment growth can be found on the Districts website at In the course of public discussions, members of the Board of School Directors raised questions about how we will be able to accommodate the increasing number of students expected to attend our two high schools. The two high schools were each built to serve about 1250 students. Through creative scheduling, we expect to accommodate closer to 1400 students. Our high school population is projected to exceed the estimated combined capacity of the two schools (about 2800 students) by just over 400 students. Under current enrollment patterns both Lower Merion and Harriton will need additional classroom space. Issues like traffic, parking, bus travel times and the utilization of common areas like the cafeteria will need to be addressed at both high schools as well. The projected student population growth is not what had been anticipated when the District sought approval to build the new high schools more than seven years ago. At Harriton, additional classrooms would be required to accommodate forecasted growth. Lower Merion is in a better position to accommodate growth because there are classrooms available in the old "A Building" which houses the Downs Gym. This portion of the building is currently in use by Lower Merion students and there are 16 classrooms available for future use. Based on current enrollment projections, Lower Merion will begin holding academic classes in the "A Building" in September 2015. In an attempt to utilize the existing space at Lower Merion and avoid or delay constructing additional classrooms at Harriton, there has been discussion in several recent meetings about changing the size of the Lower Merion choice area. Students leaving Welsh Valley for high school who live closest to Lower Merion have the option of continuing to Harriton with their peers or electing to attend Lower Merion. Currently about 80 students each year have this option. The proposal being discussed on Monday would afford about fifty additional students each year the option of selecting Lower Merion. (All students who attend Bala Cynwyd currently have the option of electing Harriton for high school.)

At Monday's meeting there will be a short presentation about the proposal to change the size of the choice area. Members of the Board of School Directors will have an opportunity to discuss the proposal and members of the public will have an opportunity to comment on it as well. There will not be a vote on this proposal at this meeting. Information about the proposal and projections for high school enrollment are available on the District's website along with a number of Frequently Asked Questions. Sincerely,

Christopher McGinley, Ed.D. Superintendent