The Cove School District’s general fund budget for 2019-20 is set to jump substantially and create a splash on the athletic front.

The Cove School Board is considering adopting a general fund budget of $6.66 million, which would be up $995,965 from the present year’s budget. The proposed budget was approved by the district’s budget committee last week and forwarded to the school board, which will later vote on adopting it.

The budget will allow the school district to maintain all of its personnel and programs, said Cove School District Superintendent Earl Pettit. He said the increase is due to rising enrollment and to a boost in overall funding the state is now providing Oregon school districts.

The Cove School District’s enrollment is now about 295, up 22 form 2017-18. This increase is significant because school districts receive at least $6,000 per student from the state.

The school district’s proposed budget calls for the addition of a high school swim team in 2019-20. The new program would cost the school district between $10,000 and $15,000 a year. The bulk of this would be transportation costs, Pettit said.

Pettit said the swim team is being proposed because of strong student interest. He added that the team would have a volunteer coach.

Should Cove add a swim program, it would become only the second district in Union or Wallowa counties to have one. The only other is La Grande High School, whose boys and girls teams are perennial state contenders.

The swim team would be the second district-funded extracurricular activity program the school district has added at its high school in the past two years. A year ago it added a speech team.

The school district’s proposed general fund budget includes money that will be spent to build a new dining hall. The building, which would be about 30 feet east of Cove Elementary School, would cost between $1.5 and $1.8 million. Pettit said all of this money will come from the school district’s capital improvement fund, which the district has been contributing to consistently over an extended period.

See complete story in Monday's Observer