Pinecrest School fate up in air

By Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat December 05, 2012 10:15 am

PUBLIC MEETING: Twain Harte-Long Barn Union School District Advisory Committee, 6 p.m. Thursday, Pinecrest Community Hall, 2 Pinecrest School Road, Pinecrest.  

A group of Pinecrest parents is seeking to reclaim the Pinecrest School building, which Twain Harte-Long Barn Union School District closed last spring due to budget constraints. 

They plan to attend a public hearing Thursday for community input on uses of the building. 

At the meeting, an advisory committee for Twain Harte-Long Barn will hear public comments on a range of uses brainstormed earlier this year. 

Those include turning the building into a science camp, an incubator for new technology companies, a senior center or a government office. 

All of the ideas could involve the sale or lease of the building. They also apply to Black Oak Elementary School, which ceased operating as a school about six years ago.

However, parents of former Pinecrest School students cite a California government code that gives charter schools priority for the use of vacant district property. 

This fall, a new branch of Mountain Oaks School opened on Old Strawberry Road next to the former school building. Most of the Pinecrest School’s students signed up for the school, an outpost of the Calaveras County-based charter program. 

Members of the Pinecrest Parents Club questioned Twain Harte-Long Barn’s policies for the use of vacant district buildings in an attempt to secure the Pinecrest School for this academic year. 

Twain Harte-Long Barn Superintendent John Keiter said the district must follow proper procedures for deciding on the fate of the building. 

The advisory committee, which has 11 members from both the school district and community at large, will draft a report and make a recommendation on uses for the Black Oak and Pinecrest school campuses to the Twain Harte-Long Barn Board of Education.

The final authority on what to do with the buildings rests with the Board of Education, according to Keiter. He said a decision could be made in January or February.