Colorado housing market keeping teachers out
While Colorado teacher salaries have been increasing, they're not keeping pace with the housing market according to a new report. That wasn't a surprise to Taylor Davis who currently lives in a colleague's basement.
"It's difficult to think because I don't get paid enough, I'm not going to be able to stay in that position to start a family," Davis, a music teacher that splits his time between two Jeffco Schools near Arvada. "The street I live on actually has four houses for sale but I can't look at any of them because of a single income, it's very difficult unless I'm out of teaching and doing something I don't love but making more money to afford that."
Davis drives about 45 minutes each way to make it to his schools on time in the morning, but he says he wouldn't change anything. When he's not teaching he has three other jobs to help pay the bills.
"I can't live where I teach because where I teach is a very affluent neighborhood," he said. "I couldn't afford to live up there. The further you go north toward bolder you have those prices and even in the Denver metro area you have all the prices that go there. Even sharing a studio with someone is expensive."
Davis is not alone. A report released Tuesday by the Keystone Policy Center says about 80% of the Colorado district's average salary doesn't pay enough to afford a house in the same community.
"Teacher salaries have gone up actually significantly recently overall. But the cost of housing has increased dramatically more," said Van Schoales, one of the report's authors and a Senior Policy Director at the Keystone Policy Center. "Even in those places that are paying teachers a lot more. The difference between salaries and cost of living is even greater."
The report comes with an app that can show you data for each district in the state. Schoales says the benefits from teachers living near the schools they teach at can improve student performance.
"Having high-quality teachers that know the community and kids well and live ie in those communities makes a huge difference," he said.
But increasing teacher pay isn't going to be the only way to solve the problem.
"If we want to work on improving public education we have to work on housing policy," Schoales said.
Unique housing solutions from districts is something Davis is familiar with. A job with cheap rent in Hayden was a big draw after finishing a master's in teaching in Alabama. The hope now is to set roots in the Denver metro area.
"I stayed in the job and stayed here because I found my teaching home," Davis said. "It's not the best feeling to have to wait for something inexpensive to open up because I'm not making enough at my job."
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