Community members volunteered their time on Sunday to maintain the Dunster Fine Arts School yard and building. The property will continue to be used for community purposes.

After a year-long struggle to keep their school open, residents in Dunster say classes won’t be there next year.

The school district promised to provide a teacher to the community-owned school on the condition they find 20 new students not currently in the school system – either children starting Kindergarten or kids who were home schooled.

Dunster Fine Arts School Society Chair Chantal Swets says they could not find that many new students.

“There just aren’t enough children,” she says.

She says some Dunster landowners own huge swaths of land and don’t live on their property; not much is for sale these days either, which would allow new families to come in.

On Sunday, community members were out mowing the school’s land, sorting recyclables to fundraise for mortgage payments, and working on the water supply.

“Isn’t it awesome, all this energy?” asks Swets, who was about to join a dozen others for lunch at the picnic tables outside the school.

The community met recently to discuss alternative options for the use of the school and surrounding lot. Some ideas discussed were continuing education courses, a hostel, an emergency shelter, building seniors cabins around the school, and a campground.

“Nothing is undoable. It’s just a matter of energy,” Swets says.

They are still in the brainstorming stages. Swets says they will continue to fundraise in order to help pay the mortgage and pay for maintenance.

After the sale agreement on the school was made, only seven students used the school for homeschooling lessons this year – 20 fewer than there were before the school district shut down operations in June 2010.

The community will continue to maintain the property each month during a volunteer clean-up like the one this week.