Once again, the future of Epsom Public School is hanging in the balance, as the Durham District School Board recently voted to move forward with a review that may see the school shuttered after almost 140 years of serving the community.
Over the past 20 years, enrollment at the school has been on a steady decline, from more than 100 students in 1992, to the current 36 pupils, including no students in Grade 2 or 3.
This, much like the recent closure of Cartwright High School is the latest in a growing trend of disappearing rural schools, that have for years, provided outstanding results in the classroom, due in large part to their small class sizes.
While there will be plenty of blame directed at the School Board, the larger issue here is an overall lack of students at schools across the area. Elsewhere in North Durham, after more than 100 years, Uxbridge Public School will become French-only next year due to dwindling class sizes in its English stream.
An evaporating job market, coupled with steadily rising home prices has led to the destruction of a large portion of those who in previous generations, would have made up a thriving middle class in this area. The same middle class that led Epsom P.S. to receive an addition just 20 years ago.
The sad reality is that the trend of school closures due to lack of students will likely continue in North Durham. With scarce development opportunities and an overall lack of reasonably-priced homes, the area appears to be moving closer everyday to eventually pricing itself out of reach for most families with school-aged children.
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