On the calendar, summer just started a few weeks ago. But on the Grand Island Public Schools calendar, summer has come to an end, with the start of a new school year at four elementary schools.
"We have lots of bright and shining faces," Jefferson Principal Jeanna Fiala said.
That included Caitlyn Snell's smiling face. She was ready, with new clothes and gear.
"I got a new backpack," she said. School supplies were easier to find this year, the third for Grand Island's continuous calendar experiment, and the second year at Jefferson Elementary. Fiala said, "It became clear it's not year round but the same number of days allocated differently so we didn't have kids gone longer amounts of time, so they retain the learning they had." In exchange for the shorter summer break, fall, winter, and spring breaks are longer. Dad Andrew Stark said, "I think it's better for kids, don't get summer loss." "I know my son, helped him, kept structure going," parent Duane Hostler said.
Kids have adjusted, but it can be tough on parents. Amber Snell said, "We've had softball every weekend and we still haven't had a free weekend and now before you know it, school is starting." But that's the idea -- allowing kids and teachers to pick up where they left off.
That is especially important in a growing school district with many poor and minority kids, who get extra attention during breaks to help them get ahead. Fiala said, "This is about academic achievement and getting kids where they need to be."
Ask the kids, and they seem excited to be back. And many moms and dads say that's what matters.
Amber Snell said Caitlyn had been looking forward to this.
"It's not a bad thing to come back early," this mom said.
Educators acknowledge it is tough on parents who have kids on different schedules, because they're in middle or high school.
For now, four Grand Island elementary schools are using the new calendar. The rest are staying on a traditional schedule.