COVE — The Cove School District’s solid budget is even rosier than it appears on paper.

The school district’s budget committee voted in May to recommend the school board adopt a general fund budget of $5.549 million, up $592,000 from the current 2017-2018 spending plan. However, the actual budget the board adopts will likely be higher, according to the Cove School District Superintendent Earl Pettit. The superintendent said he will recommend the school board adopt a 2018-2019 budget of about $5.7 million when it meets next week to vote on adoption of the spending plan.

The school district is set to receive more money from the state than was anticipated when the budget committee made its recommendation in May, Pettit said.

Cove’s revised estimates are higher in part because the school district’s average daily enrollment for the past school year was more than originally forecasted, Pettit said. School districts receive about $7,000 from the state per student, a number that is based on average daily attendance.

The budget the committee recommended in May would allow the school district to maintain all of its programs and staff. Money from the budget will also be spent on a number of capital projects. The biggest on the list is a $1.4 million proposal to convert the school district’s old gym building into a multipurpose facility. The school district plans to remove the aging locker rooms on the north side of the old gym and replace them with a kitchen and new locker room facilities, and renovations will be made to the gym so that lunch can be served there.

The larger food service area is needed because Cove’s present cafeteria is far too small, Pettit said. He explained that there is enough room for only one class at a time to eat lunch there. To accommodate this, the school district’s lunch period runs from 11 a.m. to 12:35 p.m., which Pettit said is too long and is costing students class time.

See complete story in Monday's Observer