Kids play around the caution tape on their first Friday in their new school. Grimmway Academy may not be completely finished yet, but administrators and teachers say they're happy with how opening week went. "It was very smooth, quite surprising how well everything fell into place," says Jose Salas founding principal.
But the road to building the school, wasn't as smooth. When Barbara Grimm-Marshall first proposed the charter school to better serve students who were under-performing, the Arvin School Board said no. Many were concerned over Grimm's possible business interests.
They said they didn't want the academy working independently from the district, or cherry picking students. But the county board of education approved the plan in January and since then it's been a sprint to get the school ready for students. "We're not here to take over or eliminate other places, we're just here to be another choice," says Salas.
Some still say the choice is too expensive, and doesn't give all Arvin students the same chance to attend. "The uniform package is anywhere from 160-180 dollars, and frankly that is too expensive for the community of Arvin," says Petra Villanueva parent- against school.
But Zulema Ela likes the way her girls look in their uniforms, and as a parent volunteer, says she likes what she sees in the classroom as well. "The whole structure is different. You get a 100 minutes per block for math, science, social studies and learning lab."
Salas says there aren't any special requirements to attend, and they are still accepting new students in every grade except Kindergarten. When construction is finished there will be 22 classrooms, a computer lab, and a learning kitchen and garden.