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South Bay Schools Unify Under One Calendar

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Aired 7/27/09

Roughly 70,000 students in San Diego's South Bay started the school year today, about two months earlier than districts across San Diego County. The early start is a result of the region's two largest school districts coming together in the name of reform.

Chula Vista High School students wait in line to register on the first day of the new school year.
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Above: Chula Vista High School students wait in line to register on the first day of the new school year.

— Roughly 70,000 students in San Diego's South Bay started the school year today, about two months earlier than districts across San Diego County. The early start is a result of the region's two largest school districts coming together in the name of reform.

The Sweetwater Union High School District and the Chula Vista Elementary School District have -- for the first time in South Bay history -- cut the summer break to just six weeks and are ringing-in the new school year in July, under one standardized school calendar.

The change comes after decades of resistance from community members who backed a traditional school year. Sweetwater School Superintendent Jesus Gandara says the switch is designed to make life easier for the district and for families. He says before kids were going to a hodgepodge of schools operating under different calendars.

"You may have to keep one sibling home, a high school sibling, to take care of the two other siblings who may be at the elementary level or may be at the middle school level. That's not good for those families or for those children academically," Gandara said.

And it's not good financially for the district, because fewer students in class means less money from the state.

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