A look back at Bobcat University 2018

T-R FILE PHOTO - Marshalltown elementary students have fun in the pool during a Bobcat University session at the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA this summer.

Marshalltown Schools officials said an expanded summer learning program was a success this year for K-3 students.

Bobcat University was born out of the smaller Rogers University summer learning program. It was divided into two sessions this summer, and district data shows it helped participating students improve in math and reading.

“Absolutely, I do think this is worth the money we’ve invested in this,” said Director of Instruction Lisa Stevenson.

The program came at a total cost of just under $170,000, most of which is paid for by the district with help from the Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation, Community Foundation of Marshall County and federal Community Services Block Grant provided by Mid-Iowa Community Action.

Not all of the 254 children invited to the program attended, but the 237 that did attend saw marked improvements when tested for proficiency this fall, Stevenson said. The children who were invited were considered below grade-level proficiency.

“This not only proved we didn’t have a slide, but it proved that kids actually grew, and grew at a higher rate than kids who didn’t attend summer school,” Stevenson.

Not all students who could have qualified for the program were invited due to funding constraints. Stevenson estimated only about one-third of district K-3 students in need of Bobcat University were invited.

Clarissa Thompson of MICA said the first summer of Bobcat University was positive, but there is still room for improvement.

“We’re actually still crunching the attendance numbers,” she said. The program goal was 90 percent attendance, but the officials said the actual attendance was significantly lower than the goal.

MICA took the lead on the previous Rogers University program at Rogers Elementary for several years. The school board approved Bobcat University funding in the current district at-risk budget.

District administration had asked the school board to increase the property tax rate to accommodate the at-risk budget for this year. That did not end up happening, as a property tax increase was deemed unnecessary.

Bobcat University provided students a chance to learn and retain academic information, as well as explore different parts of the community.

The city, county, Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA, Iowa Valley Community College District, Iowa State University Extension, Rapha Reins Ranch, Wayward Social, Animal Rescue League of Marshalltown, and Substance Abuse Treatment Unit of Central Iowa (SATUCI) all provided activities for Bobcat University.

Stevenson said next year’s goals will be to improve invitee attendance to the program. She thanked MICA, the school board and the community for supporting the program.

“I’m pleased with the results we have,” Stevenson said.

———-

Contact Adam Sodders at

(641) 753-6611 or

asodders@timesrepublican.com