McWilliams said the district has restructured this fall to create smaller learning centers, creating a K-3 elementary school, and 4-6 intermediate and 7-8 middle schools. Each school has an administrator for about 300 students.
The K-3 mission is for all students to read, write and do math by the end of third grade. The intermediate school will catch anyone lagging from the previous level and the goal is to redesignate English-language learners by the end of sixth grade.
"Middle school is where we want students to read to learn. Here we want students to begin to use the skills they learned in K-6 and take charge in their own learning," McWilliams said.
Gustine's 2012-2013 budget is $12,950,663, compared with $13,112,990 for the 2011-2012 school year.
School started Thursday in the Hilmar Unified School District with 2,277 students anticipated, the same number as last spring. Superintendent Isabel Cabral-Johnson said there are 217 staff members, with minimal changes.
No furlough days are projected for Hilmar. New programs include transitional kindergarten and Netbooks for all incoming middle-school students. The budget for the current and previous school years is about the same, Cabral-Johnson said.
School began Aug. 9 for the Le Grand Union High School District, with 549 students. That's up 29 students from the end of the last year, Superintendent Donna Alley said.
There are 29 teachers and 42 support staff members, up by one teacher from last spring.
Alley said the district is implementing iPads for all ninth- through 11th-grade students. Seniors are receiving Netbooks.
"This is our second year of one-to-one technology with students," Alley said. "Last year we did ninth and 10th grade only. It is new for half of the staff and students."
The Le Grand district's 2012-2013 budget of $5.2 million is the same as last year.
Livingston Union School District classes started Tuesday, with 2,540 students, about the same as last spring, Superintendent Andres Zamora said. This year there are 131 certificated and 125 classified employees, compared with 140 certificated and 164 classified last year.
The district's 2012-2013 budget is $17,044,118, down $1.7 million from the previous school year.
Zamora said strategic schooling, which monitors student achievement and focuses on expanded relationships with students, is new this fall, along with instructional rounds and added focus on the unique needs of long-term English-learners.
"We want to raise the level of knowledge and awareness as we prepare students for the 21st century," Zamora said.
In the Los Banos Unified School District, classes began Friday for seventh- through 12th-graders and will start Monday for first- through sixth-graders. Superintendent Steve Tietjen said 9,700 students are enrolled, about 200 students more than in May.
Even more people are choosing to live in Los Banos and commute to jobs in San Jose and Gilroy areas, with more affordable housing available, Tietjen said.
Los Banos has 447 certificated employees for this school year, five more than last spring. There are 410 classified employees, 11 more than the 2011-2012 year. Five furlough days are planned, plus an additional five if the November tax initiative fails, Tietjen said.
This fall marks the first senior class at the new Pacheco High School, a $62 million facility that opened in 2010, Tietjen said.
Classes for Merced City School District pupils begin Monday. Superintendent RoseMary Parga Duran is projecting flat enrollment this fall. For the last school year there were 10,687 students and about the same numbers are projected for this fall.