Darlene Abbott made the short walk to Maple Elementary School in south Sacramento with her granddaughter Friday, weighed down by a heaviness reflected in their eyes.
After staying at Thursday's Sacramento City Unified School District board meeting until past midnight, Abbott listened as trustees vote 4-3 to close Maple and six other elementary schools, effective in June.
For parents of the 2,300 students at the seven schools, the palpable question Friday was: "Now what?"
School board President Jeff Cuneo said the district is focusing its efforts on ensuring a smooth transition for everyone involved.
"The next step is to take care of the students and parents at the closing schools to make sure the district makes good on the promises we gave those families," Cuneo said. "At the end of the day, we made a decision to strengthen the district as a whole so every child is given the opportunity to succeed in our educational system."
The decision to close schools came after four hours of public comment and contentious discussion on the dais.
Trustees Cuneo, Patrick Kennedy, Darrel Woo and Jay Hansen voted in favor of closing the seven schools - Washington, Maple, Collis P. Huntington, Fruit Ridge, Joseph Bonnheim, Mark Hopkins and Clayton B. Wire.
Trustees Gustavo Arroyo, Diana Rodriguez and Christina Pritchett voted in opposition, saying the school-closure proposal was flawed and contending it had a disproportional effect on low-income families in south Sacramento.
Superintendent Jonathan Raymond announced early during Thursday's board meeting that Susan B. Anthony, Bret Harte and James Marshall were being pulled off the closure list.
Raymond said enrollment at Susan B. Anthony and Bret Harte will be affected by housing developments planned near the schools. He also said the James Marshall community raised valid objections to students being moved to A.M. Winn, which is becoming a Waldorf-inspired school.
The board is scheduled to vote on whether to close Tahoe Elementary or Mark Twain Elementary at a March 7 meeting.
"The vote (Thursday) night was not the end," Kennedy said. "We need to make sure we give the resources we have to make sure our decision makes sense."
District spokesman Gabe Ross said school officials will begin meeting with parents next week to counsel them on their school choices. In some cases, such as Maple, all students will be assigned to one school - Ethel Phillips Elementary, about 1.4 miles away.
For other schools, such as Washington Elementary, students will be divided among schools depending on their address. Washington Elementary students will attend either Theodore Judah or William Land elementary schools.
The district is also advising parents at the closing schools that they will be given priority during open enrollment, which allows families to attend other district schools. The open enrollment deadline is March 15.
In the coming weeks, a committee will be formed to engage each community about what should become of the schools that are closing in June.
"There's a concern in the community about crime, graffiti, gangs and the blight that comes with unoccupied buildings," said Jeffie Vogt, a 10-year resource teacher at Maple.
For many, the emotions on Friday were still raw.
Marilyn Archie, who was dropping off her two daughters at Collis P. Huntington in the Brentwood area on Friday morning, said she has had children attending the school for seven years.
"It's going to be difficult," she said. "We have a lot of friends here."