EDUCATION is one of the defining features of life in Bathurst.
The education industry is Bathurst's largest employer and provides a resilience to the local economy that most regional centres can only envy.
And the question of where to send young children for their schooling is perhaps the most common conversation among local parents.
With more than 20 primary schools to choose from, it's only natural that parents are keen to compare notes as their children approach school age.
And just a few years later, that same conversation inevitably turns to the choice of high school. Public? Private? Catholic?
Do we need a new high school? Vote in our poll …
Of course, Bathurst is spoiled with choice when it comes to education and it's that breadth of choice that fuels these conversations. So it was interesting to see Bathurst's education options make it onto the agenda at last week's Bathurst Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association candidates' forum.
Candidates were asked whether Bathurst needed a third public high school and while it was a left-field question without notice, it was not surprising that no candidate was willing to reject the proposal outright.
Bathurst is one of the fastest growing cities in regional NSW and is particularly popular for young families.
Bathurst High already has more than 1000 students this year and there are more than 800 at Kelso, and those numbers have been growing in recent years.
The question for education officials, though, is where will that growth stop?
New schools are not built to cope with population booms of just a few years but, rather, are built to plan for the next 100 years or so.
Then there's the independent and Catholic options to take into account - two well-populated single sex Catholic high schools and one merged independent high school that is aggressively chasing new enrolments.
READ MORE: Bathurst single-sex education bucks trend
With all those factors at play, can Bathurst keep growing at a rate that could justify the investment in a new public high school?
Who knows? It's up to the collective wisdom of experts within the Department of Education to work that one out.
But the fact the issue is even on the agenda is something to be excited about.
Something tells us, though, that it's going to several more election campaigns yet before we see any real action.