Thousands of Sacramento City Unified students headed to their first day of class this morning - including about 2,300 routed to new campuses following seven elementary school closures.
At Pacific Elementary in south Sacramento, the new school site for hundreds of former Clayton B. Wire Elementary students, children lined up for breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and for the start of school at 9 a.m.
Principal Shana Henry greeted the long line of students with a warm smile.
"I think the biggest challenge is finding ways to make sure the children are welcomed and the blending of the community," Henry said.
The campus, with more than 700 students, has two "walking attendants" before and after school to accompany former Clayton B. Wire students to campus "like a walking school bus," Henry said.
Several students switching to Pacific said they were looking forward to attending the new campus. Principal Henry said the top two languages spoken at the diverse school are Spanish and Hmong.
Some parents opposed the elementary school closures. Among their complaints: the alternate, longer routes to school will expose their children to traffic and security risks.
"The area is not safe and 44th Street is a nightmare with buses, the post office and traffic," said Karen Casillas, grandmother to fourth-grader Gabriel Casillas, 9, and his brother, sixth-grader Vincent Martinez, 10.
The boys said their walk to Clayton B. Wire was just a few blocks.
"For the rest of the year, they are not going to be walking," said Casillas, among a dozen people who were plaintiffs in a federal suit filed in June to block the Sacramento City Unified school closures.
In July, U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller denied their request for a preliminary injunction.
In addition to Clayton B. Wire, the district after last school year closed Maple, Washington, Collis P. Huntington, Fruit Ridge, Joseph Bonnheim and Mark Hopkins.
Editor's Note (2:00 p.m.): This post has been updated to correct the grade level of Gabriel Casillas.