School districts across the country are grappling with teacher shortages – and communities with affordable housing are often the hardest-hit.
“A lot of times we didn’t have a math teacher, or we didn’t have a language teacher,” Megan Carey, principal of Terra Nova High School, south of San Francisco, told CBS News.
The Reason? “High cost of living – 100%!” he said.
Now, her school district is trying something new: affordable housing on school property. 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 huge,” said Michaela Ott, who teaches biology at Jefferson High School, which is also in the district. “big huge!”
Ott said the average two-bedroom apartment in the neighborhood would cost more than $3,000 per month. His rent is $1,600.
“If I didn’t have housing, it would have been really challenging for me to make a living,” she later said, “being able to live in a place where I feel like I can recharge […] I feel like a weight has been taken off my shoulders.”
Jonathan Krupp, who taught social sciences for 13 years, told CBS News that he was “absolutely blown away” by the idea.
“There are no words to describe it,” he said. “I think that gives teachers hope.”
While other school districts still have vacancies, Carey said Terra Nova High School is fully staffed. One of those employees is Eric Willems, who says he wouldn’t be able to coach cross country without a subsidized apartment.
“Distributing pizza actually pays more than coaching in this district!” He said, calling the apartment program “God’s grace”.
When asked what his message would be for other school districts, Carey said, “Just do it! It will benefit everyone.”
“Absolutely money well spent,” she said.