Brenna Swift, The Union Democrat

The financial forecast for Twain Harte-Long Barn Union School District is much brighter than it was earlier this year, thanks in part to the passage of Proposition 30 on Nov. 6.

In a budget report given at a Twain Harte-Long Barn Board of Education meeting Wednesday, district Chief Business Official Tonya Midget affirmed the temporary state tax increase reduced the amount of impending budget cuts by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"That's probably the brightest (report) you've given us in three years," Board of Education member Tim Hoffman-Brady told Midget.

Without Proposition 30, which is raising sales taxes by a quarter of a cent and boosting income taxes for wealthy Californians, Twain Harte-Long Barn would have lost $294,814 this year alone.

The loss would have resulted from the "trigger cuts" Brown promised if the initiative failed.

Twain Harte-Long Barn will still see a cut of $187,647 this year and the following two years. It will deficit spend by about $138,000 this year, ending with a balance of $944,000 in its primary funds.

However, Midget now predicts the district can sustain the deficit spending, where last spring she said it ran the risk of insolvency. She also said it has managed to build "healthy" reserve funds of about $383,000.

In March, Twain Harte-Long Barn's Board of Education voted in an emotionally charged meeting to close the 35-student Pinecrest School due to financial constraints and declining enrollment.

The Calaveras County-based Mountain Oaks School now bills Twain Harte-Long Barn for resident students who attend its new Pinecrest outpost. According to Midget's report, the amount of the bill is about $95,000 for 28 students - an increase over her initial estimate.

The Board of Education expressed a desire Wednesday to verify that the 28 Pinecrest students are living within Twain Harte-Long Barn boundaries. The district does not pay Mountain Oaks for students who live in other areas.

Midget said the charter school - run by the Calaveras County Office of Education - won't pass along the names of the students who are attending.

"We'll just keep asking the Calaveras County Office of Education to tell us who we're paying for," said Twain Harte-Long Barn Superintendent John Keiter.

An advisory committee for Twain Harte-Long Barn will hold a public hearing today on possible uses for the former Pinecrest School building on Old Strawberry Road. A group of Pinecrest parents is attempting to secure the building for the Mountain Oaks program.

Twain Harte-Long Barn has determined that the former Black Oak Elementary School building is also "surplus property."

Black Oak shuttered several years ago, the result of declining enrollment. Within the past 16 years, the district lost about 65 percent of its students. As of early November, it had about 280 students.

Twain Harte-Long Barn is on an alternative state funding formula that means its financial well-being is more strongly affected by local property values than declining enrollment, which would devastate budgets at other districts.