Students and staff will get back into the daily grind a little earlier this summer when the Modesto City Schools academic year starts two weeks ahead of the normal date.
School will begin Aug. 11, compared with this school year's start Aug. 24. The change shortens the summer, but ends the semester before winter break and gives students and employees an extra week off during that vacation. The shift should cut down on the student and teacher work that usually occurs during winter vacation.
"It'll allow people to have a true Christmas break, with no work," said Megan Gowans, executive director of the Modesto Teachers Association.
The new calendar affects 28,000 Modesto students and more than 3,000 employees.
Many high school students like the idea because it means less homework over the winter break because the semester ends in December. It also will be more efficient -- teachers no longer will need to spend days refreshing students' memories for the fall semester's final exams in January, because the tests will be taken in December.
"From the high school perspective, you have the semesters where you can focus on instruction and can do culminating tests without interruption in instruction," said Emily Lawrence, coordinator of instructional services at Modesto City Schools.
Getting a third week of vacation also helps.
Next school year ends a week earlier -- May 27, instead of the June 3 stop date for this school year.
Though some employees aren't happy about losing a week of summer vacation, Gowans urges people to give the new calendar a chance.
"With changes come growing pains. People are expressing concern even before they've given it a chance," she said.
Another driving force behind the calendar change is an attempt to lessen the drop in funding schools tally when students and their families take more than the allotted two weeks off for the holidays.
Other Stanislaus County school districts might consider the earlier start time in August for future years.
Currently, schools in Patterson and Riverbank start in early August and have three-week winter breaks. Salida schedules a four-week break. Turlock schools and the Sylvan Union district in Modesto get two weeks off in December and start the school year in mid- to late August.
Year-round calendars have a variety of other beginning and ending dates.