Fliers detailing the summer school program at Union R-XI schools are arriving at students’ homes.

The school board recently voted to renew its contract with Catapult Learning Summer Journey for another summer.

This year, summer school will run from June 4 through June 29, a few days less than last year. The program will once again offer cash incentives to students based on attendance and is free to students. New class options also will be offered over the summer.

Superintendent Dr. Steve Weinhold said academic success and a huge spike in summer enrollment were two major reasons the school district decided to renew with Catapult Learning.

He added that the extra time students spend in class over the summer, especially for kindergartners, is paramount to their development.

“We’d really like it to be as big as last year. It’s really great to have kids have that extra learning time,” Weinhold said, especially with kindergartners. It gets them ready for school before the school year begins.

From an academic standpoint, Catapult Learning pretesting and post-testing scores revealed a 62 percent increase of students answering correctly in language arts and reading and a 173 percent increase in mathematics.

At almost every school in the district, summer testing scores doubled or at least raised by more than 15 percent. Last year, at the middle school, for instance, summer school students started the session by answering 182 questions correctly overall. At the end of the session, the students answered 888 questions overall.

Assistant Superintendant Dr. Scott Hayes said that success is a major reason the district wants to move forward with Summer Journey. He said, however, this year some grades will have different options academically, to keep things fresh.

Enrollment wise, the summer session came to a close at the end of June 2017, kicking off with 1,115 students and ending its run with 940 students.

Attendance averaged 80.2 percent each day. Enrollment at the start of the session topped out at 1,179 students.

The district had initially set a goal for 1,000 students, which was quickly surpassed. In 2016, summer school only attracted roughly 500 students.

Weinhold said the aim is to get as many students in the program as last year.

Assistant Superintendent Mike Mabe said the school also will provide free lunches and breakfasts to students this year through Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. He said that was a another big draw during the first year of Summer Journey.