School District Pleads With Locals To House Teachers To Combat Educator Shortage
Eagle county schools are pleading with local homeowners to offer up their houses to teachers in need of housing.
Schools across the nation are desperate for teachers. Amid the mass exodus of educators from public schools, many innovative ways have been concocted to attract teachers to schools lacking enough educators. In Florida, schools took to hiring police officers and retired veterans or even recruited foreign educators. In Colorado, Eagle county schools are in dire need to fill vacancies, and they are now pleading with local homeowners to offer space in their homes for teachers being recruited to the district.
Like many other areas in the country, Eagle county schools are short on teachers. But while there are numerous issues leading to massive vacancies in other areas, the situation is quite clear in this Colorado mountain town. The price of housing far outpaces the salary of teachers. Now that educators simply can’t afford to live and work within the limits of schools, town officials are urging locals to open up their homes.
The Colorado Sun reported that the Eagle county school’s superintendent mailed out letters to all homeowners within the community. In desperation, this letter pleaded with community members, asking them to open up any vacant living space to teachers so that the school system could incite and retain enough teachers. The state of Colorado is notorious for high-price homes, and those within the Eagle county school’s remote area are no expectation, according to a report from the Keystone Policy Center.
Teacher pay has risen in Colorado over the past several years. However, the prices of homes skyrocketed much higher. Last year, Eagle county schools passed an act to increase staff salaries across the board. However, the starting pay for a newly hired teacher fresh out of college only amounts to $45,000 annually. Zillow estimated the average price of homes in the area at just shy of $1 million.
What’s more, many of the houses in the area are vacant much of the school year, as they are vacation homes. The superintendent made note of this when questioning why they can’t be utilized to house teachers. Over the summer, roughly 100 homeowners showed interest. Still, the initiative has done little to aid Eagle county schools, as these vacant homes were still only offered out as rentals, which most educators remained unable to afford.
Eagle county schools say they still have a few other tricks up their sleeve. The district has a plan to build affordable housing for teachers. A rental unit building that will offer 37 units for educators is being constructed. Rent will be capped at 30% of the individual teacher’s base salary. However, this does nothing to aid the district in the short term, as the housing units won’t be finished until next year.
Habitat for Humanity is also aiding in the Eagle county schools’ efforts. The nonprofit is using district-owned land to erect new houses which will be made available to teachers. But again, these homes won’t be available for quite some time.
It remains unclear whether or not these various initiatives will help Eagle county schools attract more educators in the present school year. What’s more curious, is whether or not the district has considered raising starting teachers’ salaries much higher, to accommodate the high price of housing. After all, with homes being worth more than $1 million, local taxes are sure to funnel a hefty amount of local tax dollars into the public school system.