New places, less spaces

More students at LM has led to more teachers being hired to resolve classroom needs. However, students are beginning to feel these staff increases in a different area, parking.

More teachers are being hired to fulfill classroom size needs. | Photo by Dylan Spivack ’24
Parking lots at LM are crowding up and squeezing out senior spots. | Photo by Anika Xi ’23/Staff

Every new school year at LM, initial bustle and excitement of the school year transitions into freshman uncertainty, junior stress, and senior burnout. However, increased class sizes and growth seem to be a perpetual theme for LM. Classes and hallways have continued to see more crowds and students. In order to battle the growing student population’s impact on class size, LMSD opened Black Rock Middle School this past fall; however, the district’s high schools are still feeling the growth in the number of students. 

Beyond the construction of the new middle school, LMSD has taken proactive measures for years to ensure smaller classroom sizes. Bala Cynwyd Middle School, Welsh Valley Middle School, Penn Wynne Elementary, and Gladwyne Elementary have all seen or had plans for outdoor additions enacted. Instead of infringing upon space at Arnold or Butcher field, LMSD repurposed the Administration Building for Chemistry classes and a few other Science electives. However, many of these policies date all the way back to 2013, and the district is still seeing growth. LMSD is currently the fastest-growing school district in Pennsylvania, and these increases in students will matriculate up to the high school level. LM was initially designed for around 1250 students, yet enrollment has increased to 1725 students. The LM class of 2026 currently includes roughly 420 students while the class of 2025 contains over 441 students, a drastic increase in the number from past years’ classes. Also, LM saw major growth in the number of overall new students. Since last fall, over 100 new students have enrolled into Lower Merion High School. This increase in student enrollment not only crowds LM, but affects the functionality of our facilities. These school size increases translate to more students in the hallways, classes, fields, gyms, and cafeterias. Class size increases translate to a need for more available sets for subjects, leading to a gap in the necessary number of teachers at the school. 

While the hiring of new teachers to replace the departure of old ones happens consistently, LM is hiring beyond standard high school needs. Last year, LM hired between sixty and seventy new teachers to
accommodate not only teacher departure, but for an increased student body. “There has been hiring for replacement and retirement of teachers and for enrollment growth,” says Mr. Scott Kilpatrick, 11th grade principal. To accommodate for small classroom size desires, an increase in teachers was needed to combat the growth in the school district. While this solution won’t affect the crowds at LM, it will provide the smaller classroom environment needed to improve student learning. 

The increased number of teachers and staff translates to a need for more staff parking spaces, and in turn less spaces for students. “A lot of the new parking [issues are] related to new staff members and teachers ,” says Kilpatrick. Five years ago, Kilpatrick issued roughly 120 parking spaces to seniors, yet only 65 to 70 spots will be available this year. “I understand that they have more staff members, but why didn’t they allow first come first serve parking near the Kobe Gym like past years?” comments Shaine Davidson ‘23. She goes on to wonder why “staff can’t park in Lot C,” the parking lot on the opposite side of the Administration Building off Montgomery Avenue. Senior frustration has been pervasive at their limited future prospects and delays in permits. This year, further obstacles have hindered student parking at LM beyond just the surveying of available spaces. A delay in the parking tickets has postponed the raffle of LM parking permits, postponing the availability of current parking. While parking will be limited this year, the future could hold better outcomes for students. Kilpatrick is optimistic for the future  as his “gut tells [him] that student parking will increase.” With the entrance of the large sophomore and freshman classes, Kilpatrick mentions the end of a bubble in growth of class size. The reduction in future classes will likely allow for more future spaces that are already available in the parking lot. However, the common student proposal of expansion of student parking onto Butcher or Arnold Field is not possible due to environment regulations. Certain greenery per concrete acreage requirements need to be maintained at LM prevent parking expansion.

Enrollment growth, increased staff size, and greenery regulations constrict the availability for students to park at LM. Carpools and Suburban Square parking remain viable options beyond bus transportation, but many complications lie in these arrangements. The pass in the bump in growth will likely allow for more parking at LM, but the senior class will remain with limited parking this year. 

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