The new summer school program at Union R-XI has brought summertime costs out of the red, district officials said at a recent school board meeting.

Assistant Superintendents Mike Mabe and Dr. Scott Hayes presented the outcomes of Catapult Learning’s Summer Journey program at the monthly meeting of the school board Wednesday, Sept. 20.

The Summer Journey program offered an entirely new curriculum and rewarded students who had good attendance a cash gift card at the end of the session. The new program lured 1,179 students, nearly quadrupling the number of students who attended last year’s program.

Last year the summer session cost the district roughly $100,000. This year, however, Mabe said the session netted a small profit of a few thousand dollars — a cash swing of nearly $105,000.

The district also served roughly 43,000 free meals to Union students over the summer as part of the Missouri Department of Secondary and Elementary Education’s (DESE) Summer Food Service program, which helped bring in some of the $105,000.

Meals were offered at district summer school locations. Additionally, lunch and dinner were served to anyone under 18, even if they were not enrolled in summer school, at the Union City Park pavilion.

The board has yet to discuss whether or not the school district will use the Summer Journey program again next year. Hayes recently said the results from Catapult Learning would start the discussion.

Board President Dr. Virgil Weideman said he was impressed with how well the summer program was received in its first year. He added that it was good to see the district gaining revenue through the summer programs, where it had cost the district in the past.

“I was surprised it was that good because it was a new program,” Weideman said. “Looks like it really hit the spot.”

Hayes said while the session was mostly positive, there are things the district needs to take a second look at in terms of planning.

“Logistically there are going to be some things we have to redo if this is the direction we go in,” Hayes said. “The good thing is there were gains, a lot of gains, from beginning to end.”