How One Rural District Is Using Motel Rooms To Attract New Teachers

The rural Texas Fort Stockton school district has successfully recruited qualified and experienced teachers by offering them refurbished motel rooms turned suites at just $250 a month.

By Erika Hanson | Published

National Teacher Unions Have Lost 200,000 Members

Districts are coming up with some peculiar, innovative ways to attract teachers amid a nationwide teacher shortage.  Rural areas are feeling the effects of this crisis the most. In a small West Texas town, one district has taken things to the next level, offering teachers plush living spaces inside a refurbished old-school motel. 

The Spanish Trail Lodge is located in Fort Stockton, Texas, where just a little over 2,000 children attend public school. The desolate location makes it hard for the schools to attract and retain teachers. To combat this, the district now rents out rooms at the motel turned into luxuriously remodeled sweets, for just $250 a month.

Equipped with en-suite remodeled bathrooms,  handcrafted saltillo tile floors, and southwestern fixtures to keep with the Tex-Mex theme, it’s the perfect homing for teachers looking to keep their costs of living down amid a price-gauging house market. Last December, the school district purchased the motel from its previous owners for $705,000. What once was a major issue for the district, made worse by the pandemic, has since been relieved.

As of today, the district doesn’t have to worry about staffing shortages. And as a bonus, the school district hasn’t had to entice new teachers by lowering standards and hiring underqualified personnel. The combination of their increased salaries and budget-friendly motel suits was enough to attract the right attention. 

Longtime educator Staci Ely moved more than 500 miles away from her spacious home and husband to take advantage of this unique teacher’s package. Speaking about her bold move with The 74 Million, she said it was an offer she couldn’t resist. The affordable housing and respectable pay is allowing the 54-year-old to plan for her upcoming retirement, and giving her the opportunity to actually save for it.

Given the vast amounts of learning loss students had suffered during the pandemic, the district’s superintendent wasn’t satisfied with simply making it through and hiring any warm body to fill vacant positions. Instead, he worked to move the district’s existing teachers into as many crucial, core subject classes as he could. After that, he looked at ways to attract experienced teachers to the area but saw hurdles with the area’s expensive housing market.

Other than offering smaller one-room apartments, the district also built a dozen duplexes for teachers in need to home themselves and their families. The district rented these out to educators for just $750 a month. But when they added the motel into the picture, the low cost proved successful in recruiting even more.

Across the country, districts have mirrored this unique program in order to attract more teachers. Various areas in California, West Virginia, and many more are offering subsidized housing as the prices to rent and purchase homes skyrocket. Others unable to afford these costly initiatives are going even further.

In Colorado, a small district’s superintendent sent letters out to the city’s homeowners. He asked them to offer up space in their homes to house teachers. In the Bay Area of California, where housing issues are said to be out of control, districts are begging homeowners to rent out rooms at low costs in order to keep teachers in the area. 


Affordable housing may be the perfect solution to the extensive teacher shortage. However, most of these initiatives are new, and their sustainability and costs make the endeavor questionable. But at a time when many districts are desperate to find qualified teachers, refurbishing motels is proving to be an effective plan.