Rincon Valley Middle School eighth-grader Corina Rodriguez had an unfortunate answer for the most common question she fielded from anxious seventh-graders during orientation Monday: Will I forget my locker combination?
"Yes," Rodriguez said.
It happens to the best of them, she said.
Back to school orientations like those held at Rincon Valley Middle and Montgomery High School on Monday are being held across Sonoma County and beyond as students, parents and teachers ready themselves for the 2013-14 school year.
In Sonoma County, Geyserville will be the first district to start when they return to class Wednesday.
Thursday marks the start day for Sonoma County's largest school district, when more than 16,000 Santa Rosa City Schools students return to class.
The biggest surge of students heading back to school hits Aug. 21, when 19 districts, including Petaluma, Cotati-Rohnert Park, Roseland, Sebastopol, Sonoma Valley and Cloverdale will send approximately 33,400 students back to class.
Summer ends on Aug. 20 for more than 18,000 kids in Rincon Valley, Windsor and Waugh districts. More than 600 kids are expected to go back to class in Horicon, Forestville and Monte Rio school districts Aug. 22, followed by Wilmar and Kashia on Aug. 26, Fort Ross and Harmony on Aug. 28 and Liberty on Sept. 3.
In Napa County, students in Howell Mountain return to school today, while those in St. Helena and Napa go back to class Wednesday. Calistoga returns Thursday and students in Pope Valley go back on Aug. 26.
In Mendocino County, students in Ukiah and Fort Bragg go back Monday, Round Valley students go back to school Aug. 20, followed by Willits and Potter Valley on the 21st, and Point Arena on the 22nd. Students in Leggett return the 26th, followed by Mendocino on the 27th, Manchester and Laytonville on the 28th and Anderson Valley on the 29th.
Across Lake County, all students return to class Wednesday, except for those in Kelseyville who go back Sept. 3.
For the first time in recent years, the school year will begin without the looming threat of mid-year budget cuts thanks in large part to voters' passage of Proposition 30 last November. Prop. 30 has largely stabilized school budgets for the current year, allowing many districts to eliminate furlough days.
Rincon Valley Principal Matt Marshall cheered the return of all 180 school days to the Santa Rosa City Schools calendar after three years of budget-related calendar cuts that reduced the year by from three to six days.
"We'll have the full 180 days, which is just awesome," he said.
And after years of cuts, a number of districts are opening new programs this school year.
Santa Rosa City Schools is opening the Spanish-language dual-immersion Cesar Chavez Language Academy for a transitional kindergarten class and three kindergarten classes.
Bellevue School District is launching Stony Point Academy, an extended-day charter school approved for kindergarten through 12th grade that is beginning with just seventh-graders on the Bellevue Elementary School campus.
In Cotati-Rohnert Park, the district is opening two new programs: Technology Middle School on the former Mountain Shadows Middle School campus and University Elementary School at La Fiesta on the former La Fiesta Elementary School campus.
But educators are still unclear about the effects of the ongoing implementation of Common Core curriculum and assessment — a program that many educators expect to replace much of No Child Left Behind.