AUSTIN, Texas — A local school district is trying to find ways to help teachers stay and live here. That help for Austin ISD's staff could come from a bond election in November.
AISD has already partnered with Habitat for Humanity to build affordable housing for staff and the community at places in Austin. However, the bond proposal could be a way to help more teachers.
“It's a tough go for teachers right now in Austin,” said Billy Dragoo, who has been teaching at AISD for 29 years and he's just a few years from retirement.
He and his wife, Annie Dragoo, teach theater together at Austin High School. He said being a teacher now is a lot more challenging in this city.
“You need an average of about $59,000 to afford a one-bedroom rental. Well, you know, I've been teaching here almost 30 years and my salary is barely over that,” he said.
The district is considering putting a $1.5 billion bond on the November ballot. It could include things like safety and security, updating facilities, improving technology, and implement a housing assistance program for teachers.
“We're looking at different sites that are no longer going to be serving in schools or identified as surplus because they never were schools,” said Austin ISD Operations Officer Matias Segura, “and figuring out how could we include affordable housing or workforce housing on these sites.”
Segura said Austin ISD is in the process of repurposing buildings by identifying the future use for district properties that are underutilized or no longer in use. He said the district hopes a plan like this will not only attract teachers but keep the ones already there.
"There is a role to play to combat this, you know, the affordability crisis that's here in Austin. Given that AISD is a very large landowner, and given the fact that we're one of the largest employers in Central Texas, and given the fact that, you know, our teachers, who are absolutely critical to students success, many of them can't afford to live here," Segura said.
For educators like Dragoo near the end of their career, it's something he wants to see for his younger colleagues.
“What a great boon to educators to not have to worry about being able to afford to live in the city where they teach,” he said.
The district will host a series of meetings about the potential bond, and in August, the board will decide if it'll go to voters in November.
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