LMSD Enrollment Growth Accelerates

Two schools began the fall with significantly more students than expected.

Editor's note: This is part one of a two part story on Lower Merion School District's response to increasing enrollment. Check back with Patch on Wednesday for more details on the school district's expansion plans.

Lower Merion School District grew by more than 300 students between last school year and the new school year, according to district statistics.

The district's 10 schools have a combined 7,682 students enrolled this fall, spokesman Doug Young told Patch.

That's a 4.4 percent increase from the 7,360 students of 2011-2012, and higher than the fall enrollment of 7,606 projected in the May 2012 enrollment study the district commissioned.

The increase is also greater, by number and percentage, than the enrollment increases of the two previous years; the district added 218 students (up 3.1 percent) heading into 2011-2012, after adding 190 students (up 2.7 percent) heading into 2010-2011.

Two schools have noticeably more students this year than the spring enrollment study anticipated:

  • Penn Wynne Elementary School grew from 576 to 593, instead of falling to 559 students as projected.
  • Welsh Valley Middle School, already expected to grow from 863 to 888 students, instead grew to 915 students.

The two biggest elementary schools also saw the biggest gains in enrollment among elementaries. Gladwyne grew from 633 to 675 students, while Penn Valley went from 584 to 614 students.

Those two schools are projected to grow the most among elementary schools in the next 10 years—15 percent at Gladwyne and 9 percent at Penn Valley, respectively—according to the enrollment study.

The biggest increase from 2011-2012 to 2012-2013 happened at Harriton High School, where enrollment grew from 1,086 to 1,188 students. It remains almost 100 students smaller than Lower Merion High School, although the district's enrollment study projects it will be the bigger school in 2022, growing 50 percent in 10 years.

Lower Merion School District enrollment growth 

School 2012 2013 (projected) 2013 Increase 2022 (projected) 2012-2022 change Belmont Hills ES 451 451 452 1 447 down 1% Cynwyd ES 512 520 516 4 532 up 4% Gladwyne ES 633 666 675 42 731 up 15% Merion ES 530 539 549 19 557 up 5% Penn Valley ES 584 617 614 30 636 up 9% Penn Wynne ES 576 559 593 17 544 down 6% Bala Cynwyd MS 865 896 893 28 972 up 12% Welsh Valley MS 863 888 915 52 1,077 up 25% Harriton HS 1,086 1,189 1,188 102 1,628 up 50% Lower Merion HS 1,260 1,281 1,287 27 1,574 up 25% Entire district 7,360 7,606 7,682 322 8,698 up 18% Source: Lower Merion School District

Click here for more on the school district's enrollment study and implications.

Gary Steinberg September 25, 2012 at 01:58 PM
And our brilliant Township leadership keeps encouraging rental property development, where even more students will enroll! Rock Hill Road Corridor is particularly worrisome, but also Righters Ferry Road, Ardmore MUST zone to a lesser degree. Has anyone calculated the ratio of possible increased cost per student with anticipated increase in real estate tax revenue? The economy has caused a good deal of flight from private schools, but bringing in student population from non-stakeholder rentals seems ill advised.
Brian A. September 25, 2012 at 02:08 PM
I am a renter in Ardmore... why am I not a stakeholder too? My rent pays property taxes, and I am not a transient, but a long-term renter. There are likely lots of transient renters in Bryn Mawr / Haverford and in Merion / Cynwyd near St Joes, but the places you identified (Rock Hill Road, RIghters Ferry, Ardmore) will attract long-term renters who are just as much residents of this township as you are. There are lots of reasons that we rent (saving up for a down payment on a house, new to the area, etc), but your judgement that we are somehow not part of the community is just flat-out wrong.
Brian A. September 25, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Where is all the population growth in Gladwyne coming from? It seems there is not a lot of space up there for new development. Or are they expanding their catchment instead?
Amanda Mahnke September 25, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Brian, according to the district, it's that older folks are selling their homes to people with kids: http://ardmore.patch.com/articles/school-district-enrollment-study-predicts-very-significant-facilities-issue
Berwyn Bro September 26, 2012 at 04:33 PM
People are moving to Lower Merion to attend these schools. Parents, and future parents, want their children to go to such a successful district. That is why numbers are rising. In years past LMSD has "competed" with local private schools. Now, they completely blow them out of the water, both on paper with test grades, and athleticly too. LMSD doesn't promote itself - it's remarkable students do. The picture is much bigger than monetary figures. It's the future of our society.


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