First day of school for some Houston area students, but not all; why districts have different start dates

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HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - When it comes to the first day of school, many kids ask the same question, "Do I have to go today?"  The answer depends on where you live.

We've got 25 independent public school districts in the Houston area, and six different start dates.  Today was day one for Alief, Channelview and Katy.

"It was exhausting," according to Alief ISD student David Hernandez. "I mean, they're always changing the schedules. They're making the school day longer."

Emmanuel King feels a little differently. "First day of school was not bad, honestly. It was kind of chill. Since we're seniors now, we just chill."

[MUST  READ: School district calendars: Important dates every parent should know]

Texas law requires all districts to start the school year no earlier than the fourth Monday of August. Seven will start on the 28th, including Houston ISD.

Turns out, there's an exemption for so-called "districts of innovation." Exemptions are based, in part, on academic performance. Not all districts can apply. Alief is one of 17 in the area granted the status.

Bryan Smith says, "Summer's short, it's no matter. I'm gonna have so many more summers."

Two years ago, Texas law changed the way we define a school year.  It used to be that 180 instructional days was acceptable. Now, we count the number of instructional minutes.

Senior Justin Blunt isn't bothered by starting earlier than so many other school districts. "Two weeks's gonna be better because we're gonna end early."

Whether they started today or during the next two weeks, students must have at least 75,600 minutes in the classroom.  And you can bet they'll be counting down every one until their next summer vacation.