Lower Merion School District

301 East Montgomery Ave. Ardmore, PA 19003-3399
Phone: 610-645-1930 ♦ Fax: 610-645-0703 ♦ www.lmsd.org
Wagner Marseille, Ed.D ♦Acting Superintendent of Schools

August 12, 2014

Dear Community,

I hope this letter finds you well and enjoying a beautiful summer.

It has been a very busy summer for the District. As you may be aware, we have been involved in an
extensive effort to find a solution to our bus parking needs. We have been actively exploring various
locations and strategies that would enable us to move 24 buses off the Lower Merion High School
campus by the summer of 2016. The buses need to be moved in advance of renovation of the District
Administration Building during the 2016-17 school year and to make room for additional parking for
students, staff and visitors necessitated by increasing enrollment. A suitable parking option must be
identified by the summer of 2015 to provide enough time to obtain appropriate land development
approvals and to ensure any necessary site work is complete.

The District’s bus parking needs are a direct result of continuing enrollment growth in our schools.
LMSD enrollment is at its highest levels in more than 30 years. In fact, opening day enrollment may
surpass 8,000 students for the first time since the 1975-76 school year. Recent enrollment studies
indicate that the student population will continue to increase through the 2021-22 school year.

The increasing number of students has led to recent classroom expansion projects at two elementary
schools and both middle schools. 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. These projects will be
completed prior to the 2015-16 school year. As discussed last year, enrollment growth will also impact
both Harriton and Lower Merion high schools. To accommodate the high school population and avoid
the cost of a classroom addition at Harriton, the Board moved last year to re-purpose empty
classrooms in the District Administration Building (formerly part of Lower Merion High School) for
classroom use once again. These renovations will be completed prior to the start of the 2017-18 school
year.

In addition to facilities and parking considerations, enrollment growth will affect programmatic
planning, staffing, scheduling and other key school functions. The District is already working to
address and plan for potential impacts in these areas.

While issues related to enrollment growth go well beyond the short-term selection of a bus
parking location, bus parking is one of our most pressing operational needs. Throughout the
summer, there have been several public meetings that have addressed this topic, including a
comprehensive presentation on the District’s bus parking needs at the July 21 Board of School
Directors meeting. We are grateful for the extensive public feedback received over the past few
months; many community members attended the meetings and have provided valuable ideas
and suggestions in our search for a solution.

I am also pleased to report that there has been productive dialogue on this issue between the
Board of School Directors, Township Commissioners and Narberth Borough Council. On August
6, members from all three elected bodies met for a second time at the District Administration
Office to lay the groundwork for a collaborative effort to achieve a solution that best meets the
needs of the community. While we have not yet determined a specific solution, it is evident
that all parties are willing to work together and remain open to a variety of options. Everyone
agrees that preserving the quality of public education in our community is a top priority. We are
scheduling additional meetings to continue these important discussions.

As we move forward, we are hopeful for continued dialogue as we engage in comprehensive,
community-wide planning related to the causes and consequences of increasing enrollment.
This will require close cooperation with Lower Merion Township and ongoing, careful review of
demographic data, population studies and real estate trends. One of these trends is the
subdivision of large lots with single homes into smaller lots with multiple homes. There may
also be impacts from new multi-family rental units set to become available in Lower Merion in
the coming months. With continued communication and collaboration among and between
elected officials, we can be better prepared for how these and other developments could
impact our schools.

The next public discussion related to bus parking will be our next Board of School Directors
meeting on August 18 at 8 PM in the LMSD Board Room. At this meeting, the administration
will provide an informational presentation and update on bus parking and the Board will
provide a report on the meeting that occurred on August 6. The administration will also request
that the Board approve further study of expanded parking capacity at our transportation facility
on Matsonford Road. This site currently houses the bulk of our fleet and maintenance
operations and was recommended for further review following the July 21 public meeting and
conversations with commissioners. It is important to note that expanded parking at Matsonford
Road would require approvals from township and state bodies and provide only a partial
solution to the District’s bus parking needs. The District would still need to find additional space
– short-term and long-term – for buses.

As always, there will be an opportunity on August 18 for public comment and feedback. You
may also send comments and questions anytime to communitycomments@lmsd.org.
Additional information on this topic is available on our website, www.lmsd.org.

Thank you for your consideration and continued support of our schools. Best wishes for a
wonderful conclusion to your summer.

Sincerely,

Wagner Marseille, Ed.D.
Acting Superintendent