Districts are desperate to recruit and retain qualified, effective teachers. Given that paying all teachers what they’re actually worth isn’t likely to happen anytime soon, some districts are trying to lure teachers with a tasty new carrot: affordable housing.
Austin ISD, with its notoriously out of reach housing market, is looking at converting two of its facilities into housing for teachers and other personnel. The district is considering building single-family homes, two-story townhomes, apartment buildings, or a mix of all three on these lands. AISD would own and rent these units to its employees. Affordable housing is one way that the district hopes to attract employees because the district’s salary rate cannot keep up with the constantly rising cost of living in the area.
Fort Stockton ISD is also utilizing housing as a lure for high quality teachers. The district bought motels, providing low-cost housing to district employees for as little as $250 a month. And the district built duplexes that better accommodate staff with families; these run $750 to $800 a month. (It must be noted that FSISD also restructured its salary scale, paying significantly more to critically needed, core area teachers with experience—as much as $80,000.)
In both Austin and Fort Stockton, these efforts have been met with resistance from local residents for a variety of reasons. And it’s important to remember that this new housing will only meet the needs of a handful of people—it isn’t a game changer for all of a district’s employees in the way that a substantial raise would be. But with the double whammy of a teacher shortage and Covid learning loss affecting our kids every day, it’s a powerful step towards doing what it takes to fill classrooms with qualified educators.
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