LM Campus Unification – Constituency FAQs
Dear Friends and Alumni,
As you have learned from the LM Board and Administration Announcement communication, we have decided to unite our three campuses: Locust Grove and New Danville on the Lancaster Campus (Lincoln Highway) beginning in the 2022-23 school year. Our goal is to create a community that is united, empowered, inspired together.
We have done our best to anticipate what some of your questions might be and provide the information in our Frequently Asked Questions listed below here, as well as some of the drawings, renderings and floor plans for the campus renovations.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What buildings/areas will each grade be in?
A: The Facilities Task Force and Administration spent time identifying areas on the Lancaster campus for different age levels, traffic flow, student flow and accessibility to various buildings. The finer details have not yet been determined but here are the plans that we can share with you now:
Grades PreK-5th: The elementary students will be located in the Rutt Building with two elementary streams, one English track and one Spanish Immersion track. The Rutt building location was chosen for elementary students because of its location and classroom layout, bathroom and handwashing accessibility for young children, playground location, separation from and yet accessibility to middle and high school students and other areas on campus, like the gym, cafeteria and fine arts center.
Grades 6-8th: Middle school (MS) students will be located in the newly renovated lower level of the ‘64 education building. There will be one middle school track, grades 6-8, with renovated design and science lab spaces. Their location will shift slightly from the current space under the dining hall to be more centrally located on the lower level of the ‘64 education building.
Grades 9-12th: High school (HS) students will move to a newly renovated 2nd floor of the ‘64 education building and the south end of the lower level with larger classrooms. HS and MS offices will move from the south end to the north end of the ‘64 education building or under the alumni dining hall. The former office space will become larger classrooms. New science labs will be built in the current media center space and there will be a new space for the media center, yet to be determined. The Family and Consumer Science department will move to newly renovated classrooms on the second floor of the Book Building.
There is plenty of room to accommodate all grades at the Lancaster campus, but it will require remodeling and construction to ensure buildings accommodate the needs of each grade level.
A beautiful new playground space will also be built off the west side of the Rutt Building. There will be a new pick up and drop off lane created off of Greenland Drive at the west side of the Rutt Building for the elementary students. The elementary grades in the Rutt building allows for safe traffic flow away from the rest of campus.
We invite you to help us find ways to celebrate the uniqueness of each campus that we can recreate on the Lancaster campus. Stay tuned in the coming months for more information about how you can participate in that process.
Q: Will all courses and offerings remain the same?
A: We are excited about what we will be able to provide when curriculum and programs are unified and under one roof – new opportunities and continuity for music, makerspace, art, Spanish Immersion, athletics, and more.
We will be inviting teachers and parents to be part of brainstorming about programming. This is an area where faculty and parents can participate in sharing exciting ideas, such as STEM education both indoors and outdoors. Stay tuned in the coming months for more information about how to participate in that process.
Q: Will the Spanish Immersion Program still continue into Middle School and High School?
Yes, we will continue to provide a dedicated curriculum for Spanish Immersion students after elementary school. 6th-8th students will switch to the maintenance phase and have approximately 90 minutes of daily instruction in Spanish and the rest in English. In high school, immersion students move into AP Spanish, which can be taken for two consecutive years. One year will focus on the cultural contexts of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean and one year on South America. Students that remain in the program can expect to attain fluency in Spanish.
Q: What staffing will be required for the unified campus and programming?
A: For the coming 2021-22 school year, it is our hope and intent to not reduce teachers or staff or change programming before the fall of 2022, barring unforeseen major changes to enrollment.
For the fall of 2022 there will be a unifying of campuses and reduction of elementary and middle school teachers and staff. The English track at Locust Grove and New Danville will be combined into one stream. Spanish Immersion will remain as a stream. The Locust Grove middle school and Lancaster Mennonite middle school (LMMS) will unify. High School programming will be reviewed and revised to reflect current educational trends such as STEM education among others.
There will be a review and selection process for teachers and staff that will be a part of the unified elementary and middle school (criteria to be shared early in 2022).
Q: How big are the current class sizes for elementary and middle school at Lancaster Mennonite School?
A: Class sizes for elementary currently are at quite a range of 5-20 students, and if we combined classes now, very few elementary grades would exceed 20 students. Class sizes for middle school range from 15-23 students. It is hard to know at this time what the enrollment numbers will be for the fall of 2022. While the smaller class sizes are ideal for families seeking that more intimate setting for learning, they are part of the issue of viability for the long term, and very small class sizes would require significantly increased tuition (which we want to avoid). We will be continuing to re-evaluate our classroom sizes and formulas for when we need to add aides and additional support for teachers and students.
Q: Did you consider all options for retaining the New Danville and Locust Grove campuses?
A: Yes, the Board has been working on options for over a year. Long enrollment decline, external factors of population declines, family choice around education, and shifts in the economy have made it a necessity. By proactively unifying campuses, it affords us the opportunity to expand programming, increase teacher collaboration, grow multi-grade level connections, and strengthen co-curricular activities like sports and fine arts for all ages. This builds a stronger and more sustainable school for our students and families for years to come.
Q: What will happen to the New Danville and Locust Grove buildings?
A: The intent is to sell both properties, then to use the proceeds to renovate spaces at the Lancaster campus, pay down debt, and add to the endowment.
Over a year ago a buyer approached LM about purchasing the Locust Grove campus. The board had already been discussing unification of campuses. The offer was not the catalyst for our decision to unify, but prompted deeper conversation among administration and the Board to explore the future God has for us.
Q: Will a competitor school be opened at the Locust Grove campus?
We’ve been working with the prospective buyer to ensure that this is not something that would happen, at least within the near future by placing restrictions on the sale negotiations.
Q: What will be done with the income from the sale of the campuses?
A: First, to renovate the Lancaster Campus, then to eliminate debt, and hopefully to increase Endowment to ensure the future stability of LM.
Q. Is the decline in enrollment and decision to unify due to COVID? And Isn’t the transfer of the Kraybill campus and the closure of the Hershey campus the reason for the decline in enrollment?
A: There has been a continuous decline in enrollment since at least 2006, especially in high school grades. Yes, COVID has impacted our enrollment this past year, but it is not the reason we decided to unify campuses. Our decision to unify campuses was in process before COVID, and it will continue to be a sound decision in the coming years to ensure a secure future for LM. We anticipate that next year we will be back in school in person and families who left because of COVID will return. International students are anticipated to return as safe international travel resumes.
Q: Is the residence hall reopening in the fall?
A: Yes! International students are anticipated to return as safe international travel resumes. Several of our international students are continuing to attend LM remotely during this pandemic year, and are eager to return to school in-person next year. There were also quite a few international students that were able to stay in the area with homestays and continued to attend school in the U.S. this year.
Q. If you have a surge in enrollment in coming years how will you accommodate that on the Lancaster campus?
A: Fifteen years ago our enrollment across the four campuses was more than 1,600 students with over 900 students on the Lancaster campus. But, LM along with many other schools, have experienced enrollment declines due to families having fewer children, economic challenges, increased school choice, and geopolitical impacts causing a reduction in international enrollment. Our current enrollment is around 670 students, and so there are many classrooms that are not being fully utilized. In addition to being able to fully utilize all of our classrooms now with the unification, we also have space to expand. Lancaster Mennonite is a 90-acre property and owns additional properties, such as an 18-acre property across the Millstream Road near the school which allow many opportunities to expand if needed.
Q: You said that LM is financially healthy and strong, can you elaborate?
A: In recent years we’ve reduced debt, managed expenses and made strategic decisions that ensure long term stability. In 2019-20, our revenue was $11.5M. As you can see from the pie chart, tuition revenue is the bulk of our revenue and doesn’t quite cover expenses – $12.4M.
We also want to share our current debt amount of $2.8M and cash endowment of $7.8M. Historical debt has been significantly reduced in part due to the sale of the Hershey campus. This is only a snapshot of our financials, but we want to reassure you that LM is secure and will continue to be into the future because of these strategic moves. LM is a beautiful 90 acre campus with extraordinary facilities. The campus has room for future expansion if needed, but in the immediate term, it offers all grade levels exciting space for indoor and outdoor experiential learning.
LM is financially stable and the sale of the two campuses will allow us to renovate and develop the Lancaster campus to serve all students more efficiently, continue to pay down debt, and build the endowment. We also anticipate a campaign to help fund exciting program expansions and upgrades to the facilities.
Q: What are the benefits of having all grades under one roof?
A: There will be many benefits to having all grades at one location. The unification will provide increased cohesiveness around programming and community. Students will have access to the facilities at the Lancaster campus – cafeteria, gymnasiums, green house, Agriculture/Technology building, fine arts facility, and athletic areas. The outdoor space and stream provide a unique and beautiful setting and allow for more experiential learning.
And as was mentioned above we are excited about what we will be able to do when curriculum and programs are unified and under one roof – like the opportunities and continuity for music, performing arts, makerspace, art, Spanish Immersion, athletics, and more. Younger students will now be able to more easily access the fine arts and athletics opportunities.
Having younger and older students close together will provide increased opportunities for peer interactions and mentoring. We have seen the benefits of this at Locust Grove and New Danville already with older students related to younger students through Peer Tutoring and Blazer Buddies, and we look forward to more ways to spur that on.
Q: Will annual tuition decrease as a result of closing campuses, selling properties, having less staff and reducing expenses?
A: The cost of education has not decreased. Annual tuition will likely follow the usual trend of 3-5% increase. LM’s annual tuition still lags behind the cost of education. The efficiencies of one campus will allow us to improve salaries which have had only cost of living increases or no increase for the past 4 years. This will ensure we are able to retain the highest quality teachers and staff. We will also need to invest in renovations, reducing debt, and building up our endowment. We believe LM provides the best value in private Christian education in the region, and we also remain committed to providing financial assistance to qualifying families.
Q: How are faculty and staff being supported?
A: When experiencing change, processing it with someone can be helpful, and LM will continue the practice of providing EAP counseling services for faculty and staff. Dr. Tieszen is providing designated times in upcoming campus faculty meetings to allow space for questions. In addition, members of the Board and Administration are available to talk, answer any questions, and pray together. Please keep our faculty and staff in your prayers.
Q: How are students being supported?
A: When experiencing change, processing it with someone can be helpful, and Campus IU13 counselors and staff guidance counselors are available on-site for students. We will provide opportunities in the coming year to acknowledge the transition and feelings of loss. We invite you to help us find ways to celebrate the uniqueness of each campus that we can recreate on the Lancaster campus.
Q: What transportation/busing options will be available?
A: Current busing from local school districts will still be accessible for all students. These public school districts will still be available to provide busing to the Lancaster campus if you reside in their school district: Conestoga Valley, Eastern Lancaster Co., Hempfield, Lampeter-Strasburg, School District of Lancaster, Manheim Township, Penn Manor, Pequea Valley, Solanco and Warwick.
LM operated paid routes remain available to Chester County, Columbia, Mount Joy and Elizabethtown.
Locust Grove is only 1.5 miles away from the Lancaster campus, and New Danville is only seven miles away. So, it’s just a little further away to school, but not out of reach for school districts or parent drop-offs/pick-ups.
Q: How will the pick up and drop off function?
A: There will be a new pick up and drop off lane created off of Greenland Dr at the west side of campus for the elementary grades. Again, the elementary grades in the Rutt building allows for safe traffic flow away from the rest of campus. And we hope to expand the current pick up and drop off areas for the middle school and high school grades.
Buses will still drop off students in the same area through the middle of the campus. Buses will still pick up all students in the same area in the middle of the campus for all grades. We are still working out the details to ensure we are staggering times students go to the buses or have staff available to accommodate getting younger students to buses before older students are released.
Q: What is happening with the upcoming fundraisers and proceeds?
A: LM’s annual fundraising events (i.e. Golf Tournament, Auction & BBQs, World Changer Day, etc.) will continue to benefit our annual fund, which allows us to keep the cost of education affordable for all of our students and families. When making donations, friends of LM can always designate their gift to be used in a particular way, including capital campaigns, endowments, or student aid. In addition to fundraising events, LM continues to raise money from individual contributions to complete Phase 2 renovations of the ’64 Classroom Wing, which will be growing into a more comprehensive capital campaign with the renovations and enhancements needed to the Lancaster campus for the campus unification updates.
Q: You said that you want me to offer feedback and suggestions about the campus changes. How do I provide that?
A: We will take time to remember and honor New Danville and Locust Grove, and will invite you to join in dreaming about new programming and spaces, culture and care of students. The Programming and Community Task Forces have a process to include staff and families in the planning.
In the next few months we will hold focus groups and feedback sessions to hear from faculty, staff and families about what makes each campus special, what dreams you have for LM, and what is most important to retain and transfer to the unified campus. We have a wonderful 90 acre campus, and facilities that will more than hold all of us. We have a Community Task Force which will be providing space to celebrate the campus history and acknowledge the loss that this transition represents.
Q: If we have more questions, who should we direct them to?
A: If you have questions or concerns, you can direct them to the following individuals: