In the “why didn’t I think of that” department, The St. Louis Dispatch reports on an innovative idea-they are planning to turn a closed school into affordable housing for the system’s teachers.
“the Wilkinson School, closed in 2008 after 80 years of use, has been purchased with the intention of transforming it into affordable housing for teachers to help “attract and retain good teachers that might otherwise leave for better paying jobs in the county,” said SLPS Real Estate Director Walker Gaffney.
Former schools have been turned into apartments elsewhere in the city, but this is the first time St. Louis has explicitly aimed to house teachers affordably there. According to a report by the National Association of Realtors, St. Louis is one of a number of metro areas where rents outpaced income growth for adults aged 25 to 44 between 2009 and 2014. That’s put pressure on new public school teachers especially, whose salaries are on the low end for college-educated professionals.
The intent is to retain quality teachers in St. Louis and protect their rent increases as well. The article also describes that earlier this year, San Francisco’s lawmakers unanimously passed an ordinance that would make teachers nearly immune to no-fault evictions. Last month, after landlords sued, a judge threw it out. “The court is cognizant of the desire to prevent disruption of the educational process,” he wrote in his decision. “[But] that concern must be addressed some other way.”
Certainly converting unused schools into affordable accommodation for teachers is a way to retain good teachers and reuse closed schools. It’s a solution worth a ponder.