California school district tries new way to retain teachers: low-cost apartments on school property
School districts across the country are grappling with teacher shortages — and communities with unaffordable housing are often the hardest hit.
“There were times when we didn’t have a math teacher, or we didn’t have a language teacher,” Megan Carey, principal of Terra Nova High School, just south of San Francisco, told CBS News.
The reason? “High cost of living – 100%!” she says.
Now his school district is trying something new: affordable housing on school grounds. It is a 122-unit apartment complex that was approved by local voters and built for teachers and staff on property owned by the Jefferson Union High School District.
“It’s very spacious,” said Michaela Ott, who teaches biology at Jefferson High School, which is also in the district. “Extremely spacious!”
Ott said an average two-bedroom apartment in the neighborhood would cost more than $3,000 a month. His rent is $1,600.
“If I hadn’t found a place to live, it would have been very difficult for me to make ends meet,” she said, later adding, “To be able to live in a place where I feel like I to be able to relax […] I feel a weight lift off my shoulders.”
Jonathon Krupp, who taught social studies for 13 years, told CBS News he was “absolutely blown away” by the idea.
“There are no words to describe it,” he said. “I think it gives teachers hope.”
While other school districts still have vacancies, Carey said Terra Nova High School is full. One of those staff members is Erick Willemse, who says he couldn’t have coached cross country without the subsidized apartment.
“Delivering pizza actually pays more than coaching in this neighborhood! he says, calling the apartment program a “bargain”.
When asked what her message would be to other school districts, Carey replied, “Do it! Everyone will benefit.”
“Absolutely money well spent,” she added.