CHICAGO - President-elect Barack Obama asked the White House if his family could move to Washington earlier than normal, but aides say the White House could not give them the official guest house as early as his family wanted.

The Obamas had asked White House officials if they could move into Blair House about two weeks before the traditional date so their two daughters could start their new school when classes resume Jan. 5. Obama aides say the White House told them that the request could not be met because the current administration still has plans for the historic government home across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House.

An Obama aide said the family was told that there were previously scheduled events at the Blair House and that guests could not be displaced. The aide, who was not authorized to speak about Obama family matters, spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Sally McDonough, Laura Bush's press secretary, said the Blair House would be available Jan. 15, the traditional date it becomes available for new presidents and their families.

Obama's two daughters - Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7 - will attend Sidwell Friends School. Classes start more than a week before the incoming first family could stay at Blair House.

A second Obama aide said the family remained optimistic that the transition from Chicago to Washington would be smooth, regardless of living location.

Sidwell is a private Quaker school with a campus in northwest Washington for grades 5 to 12 and with another campus in suburban Bethesda, Md., for kindergarten through fourth grade. Malia is in fifth grade, and Sasha is in second grade.