School offers teachers housing incentive

September 22, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
School administrators in Santa Clara are taking extreme steps to keep their teachers happy with an unusual lottery. It's improving the quality-of-life and creating some friendly competition.

Two hours after the last school bell rang, dozens of Santa Clara Unified School teachers gathered to take part in a lottery. It's not money they want, but a chance to save it.

Starting in May, the district will rent 30 apartments, at Casa del Maestro, for as little as $800 a month, about half the cost of a typical one-bedroom in Santa Clara. Eighty-five teachers want them. If their names are picked, they'll get to move in.

The district started this program in 2002, to give teachers affordable housing, and to give schools some much needed stability.

"Of the teachers who live here or have lived here, we have a turnover rate of about eight percent. The teachers that we hired at the same time that didn't live here, the turnover rate is almost 40 percent," said Roger Barnes, of Santa Clara Unified School District.

The majority leave because of the cost of living. In Santa Clara, the average person makes $75,600 a year. Santa Clara Unified Teachers start at $45,000. Some live as far away as Tracy, where it costs less to live.

"We want our teachers to be able to enjoy the community where the children they teach live and we want them to be active within this community," said Pat Dando, from the Silicon Valley Chamber Of Commerce.

One by one, names are called, lives are changed, and plans can finally be made.

"Now with this money it'll go toward retirement, toward a house in the future and just not being so strapped every month," said Claire Alvies, a teacher.

Fifty-five other teachers, didn't make the cut.

"It would have been a great situation, we would've saved a lot of money," said Steven Kontich, a Santa Clara resident.

"As a single mom, it would be nice to have a place that's affordable and nice," said Vicki Pardini, a San Jose resident.

The only way into one of the new units now, is if someone decides to move out.


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