Colorado Springs School District to Build On-Campus Teacher Housing
The 325-square-foot duplexes aim to improve teacher recruitment by offsetting the high rental costs in Colorado Springs.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A Colorado Springs school district is uniquely supporting its teachers by building affordable homes on school property.
Harrison School District 2 announced Saturday it is in the planning stages of building an affordable duplex complex on an acre parcel of land at the district’s Mountain Vista Community School, reports the Denver Gazette. Wendy’s Village, named after Superintendent Wendy Birhanzel, who won Colorado’s 2023 Superintendent of the Year award, will feature twenty 325-square-foot duplexes.
Mike Claudio, assistant superintendent of personnel support services for D-2, said new teachers, who have a starting salary of $47,545, often ask about housing.
“They ask, ‘Can I live in Colorado Springs?’ And I say you can, but you have to have a roommate or two or three in order to make a paycheck go as far as possible,” he said.
Claudio said the units will be “dignified” net-zero electrically powered homes and rent for $825 a month. Comparatively, the average rent in Colorado Springs is $1,720 a month and the average home price is $523,456, according to Forbes Advisor.
Harrison School District 2 is the first district in the area to initiate a housing project for teachers, though other districts across the nation have completed similar projects. Los Angeles Unified School District, Santa Clara Unified School District, and Jefferson High School District have each built employee housing, according to EdWeek.
As the U.S. continues to deal with a massive teacher shortage, local, state, and federal agencies continue to come up with creative ways to hire and retain teachers. Prior to the pandemic, around one in six teachers expressed they would likely leave their job pre-pandemic. This increased to one in four by the 2020-21 school year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 567,000 fewer educators in America’s public schools today than there were before the pandemic.
A 2022 EdWeek Research Center survey found that 11% of teachers said that subsidized housing would make them more likely to stay in the teaching profession.
“It’s a huge recruitment tool for us, and it’s a huge need for the community,” Claudio said. “We’re trying to improve the community we’re in and keep the money in the southeast as much as possible.”
The construction timeline will depend on fundraising which starts this month. It is expected to cost $6 million.
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