- Both large and small school districts in Colorado have recognized the negative impact of the state’s expensive housing markets on recruitment and retention and have taken steps to shelter new teachers from market rates.
- Chalkbeat reports three rural districts have construction projects underway, and Denver Public Schools is researching how subsidized teacher housing works elsewhere in the country as a potential strategy to combat a shortage of affordable housing for middle-income residents.
- Some rural districts have long offered employees housing below market rates, and Custer County is in the process of converting a vacant former preschool into four apartments that will be built by community volunteers and high school trade students.
Beginning teachers have the benefit of summer vacations and schedules that are generally easy to combine with family life, but they are paid relatively little, especially when compared to employees who work in other fields that require similar education levels. The problem is that they make more than the amount that the federal government considers eligible for affordable housing set aside for a region’s poorest. If schools rely on outside partners to build affordable housing, tax credits make it most worth their while to build units most teachers wouldn’t even be eligible for.
The recent focus on housing for many districts comes as a way to address retention. Recent reports from the Learning Policy Institute identified retention as a critical factor in the teacher shortages many regions are experiencing right now. If half as many teachers left the field, the problem could be eliminated.