LOS BANOS — The city's newest school opened with an iPad for every student and digital textbooks.
More than 300 students swarmed Mercey Springs Elementary School on Wednesday and they did so with a smile, said Eric Sowersby school principal. Sowersby greeted students and parents as they scowered through the hallways looking for their classes and teachers.
"We're just extremely excited about the first day of school," he said. "I couldn't be any happier with what I have to work with. Everybody's been great."
The landscaping isn't completely finished and a permanent fence still needs to be erected, but that didn't seem to matter.
"The construction is primarily finished," Sowersby said. "The lawn was staked off so the sod can take hold, but the playground and play-structure is ready."
The kindergarten through sixth-grade facility broke ground in mid-February; the pre-fabricated buildings were craned in.
What does matter is what's important to empower students: an overhead projector in each classroom; iPads for every student; and digital textbooks.
"We do have some hardbound textbooks to help with a successful transition," he added. "But it's not all technology. We have a library with 3,200 books."
The school can accommodate 446 students and employ two teachers per grade level. There were 307 students enrolled on the first day of school, but Sowersby expects that number to increase.
"We're just extremely excited to open a brand-new school. I couldn't be any happier about the community and my staff and all the support from Los Banos Unified School District," he said.
The Mercey Springs Elementary School site was purchased from the Merced Community College District for $1 million in 2012. The campus was formerly the home of Merced College, Los Banos Campus. The school district demolished all but one of the buildings from the old college. The California Department of Transportation plans to erect a signal light near the school at Mercey Springs Road and Scripps Drive after the student population hits 400.
The opening of the school alleviated some overcrowding issues at the elementary school level, but the district still boasts a record-high 10,000 students.
Reporter Marina Gaytan can be reached at (209)388-6562 or at firstname.lastname@example.org