Affordability may prevent San Francisco from recruiting top teachers

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's no secret the cost of living in San Francisco is affecting many people, especially teachers.

The affordability crisis is just one reason why San Francisco schools will soon have a hard time recruiting teachers over the coming years.

Their stories have been told before, teachers like Alicia Vazquez, not able to find an affordable apartment in San Francisco.

"I thought it was a two bedroom but it was a studio for $2,500. They were offering me a two bedroom for $3,500, which is going to be over 50 percent of what I make," explained Vazquez, who lives with her daughter at her aunt's place.

Buying into the housing market is not even a consideration for Frank Lara. "I think sharing an apartment with roommates is realistically what we can do in San Francisco, nowhere near a house," he said.

The President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, flew in to San Francisco to discuss with the mayor how the unions can help financially support more affordable housing for teachers. "Can we bring in affordable housing, can we help with rental and mortgage relief?" she asked.

The average salary for a teacher in San Francisco is $62,000. About 72 percent of teachers live in San Francisco, but it's getting harder for many to stay. The teachers union says half of the teacher in San Francisco leave after five years, but it's not just because they can't afford to live here.

"Our profession is one of the hardest and has one of the biggest turnaround," said Lara.

That's something that occurs throughout the country.

School districts in California are also predicting a shortage of credentialed teachers. The state budget cuts that resulted in thousands of layoff notices, will have a lasting effect in the classroom.

"The signal that sent across California, is that teaching may not actually be a secure profession to go into," explained teacher Gentle Blythe.

San Francisco Unified is already issuing more emergency credentials to those who are working on getting their certification.

The challenge for the city now is to come up with ways to help teachers stay in the communities they serve.
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