Superintendent Web Message March 17, 2022
March 17, 2022
Dear GUSD Students, Staff, Parents, and Community Members,
There is a housing shortage issue in the U.S.! This housing shortage impacts people from all walks of life. I want to take a few moments to consider how the U.S. housing shortage impacts school districts, especially in small rural communities such as Globe. Singh (2020) points out “the U.S. housing shortage will be around for years to come”. This is not an encouraging point of view.
The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has not helped matters. According to Sai Balasubramanian (2021), the COVID-19 has exacerbated the housing situation. Balasubramanian cites Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com with the following statistics:
· “Median listing prices grew at 18.7 percent over last year, marking 35 consecutive weeks of double-digit price growth.”
· “New listings – a measure of sellers putting homes up for sale – notched a 36 percent gain compared to this time last year…”
· “Total active inventory…remains 53 percent below this time last year.”
According to Balasubramanian, these numbers create the perfect storm for increased demand and low supply causing rents and home purchase prices to skyrocket.
What does this have to do with teacher housing in Globe? The housing shortage in Globe is very much the same as throughout the state and nation. This situation impacts the school district by making it hard to recruit and retain teachers from outside of the community. While GUSD has worked diligently to train teachers from our community, the district still faces challenges when trying to find specialized teachers in fields such as mathematics, science, foreign language, and special education. How can the district recruit these specialists when we cannot guarantee they will have a roof over their heads and a place to sleep at night?
In the State of Arizona, reservation schools have been leaders in providing housing for teachers. San Carlos Unified School District, Ganado Unified School District, and Chinle Unified School District are just a few of the reservation schools which have provided teacher housing for many years. Up until just a few years ago, off-reservation schools had done little to provide affordable teacher housing. In 2018 Vail Unified School District began to build tiny houses for teachers. In 2018 Vail 5th grade teacher Sydney Scharer was one of the first teachers to rent one of the Vail Unified student-built tiny houses. Scharer said it was impossible for a new teacher making $38,000 to afford to purchase a $260,000 new home. Rent of $1,200 and upward was also an impossibility. (Williams, 2018). The tiny homes at Vail have proven to be a solution for some teachers.
As superintendent of Globe Unified School District, I have been conversing with our board to come up with some creative and innovative solutions for the teacher housing crisis here in Globe. GUSD teachers face the same challenge as the ones in Vail. How will our district come up with a solution which works for our community? Ivory and Colton (2020), in addressing innovative solutions for the housing crisis suggest using existing resources and land to provide greater housing opportunities. Ivory and Colton’s concept of using existing resources has led GUSD to an interesting discussion about how to utilize the resources it already has in place to help solve the teaching housing issue.
At GUSD we have examined existing resources and other opportunities. Just recently the district considered whether to invest in the Gorman remodeling project at the Hill Street School. The project will create approximately 60 new apartment units. The district was offered the opportunity to invest $1.2 million to reserve 8 units for teacher housing. On March 2, 2022, I recommended to the board that the district not enter into that relationship. While the opportunity was a real chance to provide housing to district teachers, the investment was too large, there were some challenging legal issues to overcome, and the return on investment for the $1.2 million may take too long for the district to realize.
This is where the innovative ideas mentioned by Ivory and Colton (2020) come into play here in Globe. Many of you remember the old locker room/wood-shop facility at Globe Junior High. This building has been used by the GUSD maintenance department for the past many years. The district has had a preliminary architectural review of that building to consider transforming the space into teacher housing units. A preliminary examination of the space indicates 5 or 6 apartments could be created. Having 5 or 6 apartments to offer for teacher housing would be monumental in recruiting teachers.
In addition to enhancing teacher recruitment, the remodeled building would be less expensive than new construction. From an investment standpoint, the apartments would pay back the initial investment in 10-15 years. This reuse of an existing facility shows much potential to help solve the local teacher housing crisis.
The district is committed to working with all interested stakeholders to collaborate on this project. As the project moves closer to becoming a reality, the district will hold informational meetings and reach out to neighbors and agencies who might be interested in what we might be doing. Before the GUSD housing project is formalized, the governing board will have to consider feasibility, costs, community impact, and many other aspects which could be affected by the project.
Wetzstein (2017) identified a global housing affordability crisis. We are experiencing a teacher housing affordability crisis here in Globe. Kottke, Abariotes, and Spoonheim (2018) even attribute improved health and well-being to having access to affordable housing. GUSD is working hard to solve the affordable teacher housing issue locally. GUSD has teaching openings that have been unfilled this year, affordable housing shortages have contributed to those vacancies. I would encourage students, staff, and the community to offer your support to the GUSD Governing Board to move forward on this exciting project. Please feel free to email me a email@example.com or give me a call at 928-402-6013 if you have questions or comments.
Jerry Jennex, Superintendent
Globe Unified School District #1