MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Summer officially came to an end for thousands of students around Minnesota, as the school year began Monday morning for dozens of school districts.

Minnesota law requires schools to start after Labor Day, but districts can have the early start if they get permission from the Department of Education.

This year, 43 districts received permission for a pre-Labor Day start. Waivers are typically granted if a district has a construction project costing more than $400,000 or for learning-related reasons. Districts with a four-day week or a flexible learning schedule would fall into this category.

Minneapolis was one district that got an early start waiver. At Pillsbury Elementary, they rolled out the red carpet for the kids. Superintendent Dr. Bernadeia Johnson welcomed students as they arrived.

On this first day, students were encouraged to sign a “Big Dream Pledge” and write out what they hope to accomplish when they graduate. Johnson said getting kids to think beyond the daily learning is a step towards accomplishing some of the district’s lofty goals for this school year.

“We call it the 5-8-10 goal. We want five percent proficiency for all students, eight percent proficiency for students who are behind in grade level and students of color, and 10 percent graduation rate,” Johnson said. “Those are big goals and opportunities for us.”

Kindergarten and preschool begin either Tuesday or Wednesday for most schools with the early start. This year, districts can offer full day kindergarten without an extra charge to parents because of the $134 million set aside by the legislature.

The WCCO Morning Show asked parents and students to talk about their favorite thing about heading back to school. Here were some of their responses:

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