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San Jose school district wants to fund teacher housing

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One East San Jose school district wants to tweak the language in an existing bond to entice teachers and staff to come onboard.

Alum Rock Union School District will ask residents to support modifying the language in Measure J, in order to allow funds from its remaining $50 million to be used for construction of below-market rate housing for teachers and other employees.

Measure J is a $125 million bond measure passed in 2012. It’s being used to refurbish campuses, update computer systems and remove asbestos and mold.

At an upcoming board meeting Thursday, district trustees will consider approving the change and putting it before voters in November. It will require 55% voter approval to pass.

Superintendent Hilaria Bauer said the school district is committed to recruiting and retaining top-notch teachers and workers, but many are priced out of the Bay Area housing market. She said the goal is to help subsidize housing.

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“Even though we try our best to provide a competitive salary, we live in the highest priced housing market in the nation,” Bauer told San José Spotlight. “For anybody earning less than a six-digit figure, it’s very difficult to be able to purchase a house.” 

The median cost of a single-family home in San Jose is up by 23.7% compared to last year, according to the California Association of Realtors. In Santa Clara County, the median home price is about $1.97 million as of June. Mortgages are also skyrocketing, with some realtors saying $9,000 monthly payments are reasonable.

As home buying in the Bay Area has become prohibitive, educators pay expensive rents or live hours away. Los Gatos, Palo Alto and Santa Clara have invested in teacher housing in response, and Alum Rock Union School District hopes to do the same.

Dale Scott, president of Dale Scott & Co. and a financial advisor to the district, said the revised bond measure wouldn’t specify how much of the remaining funds would be used for building teacher housing. He said the district hasn’t done a feasibility study or determined the number of homes it would build—or what the below-market rate would be.

Bauer said the updated language has to pass before Alum Rock Union School District can move forward. She envisions this as a five-year plan, and said groundbreaking could be in two years followed by construction.

“Right now we’re into the fact-finding mode,” she said.

Corina Herrera-Loera, an Alum Rock school board member, said residents overall support teacher housing, which was confirmed in a recent voter survey by the district.

“We know that, unfortunately, the professions within education are not the best paid jobs,” she told San José Spotlight.

If the school district could provide housing at a much lower cost, Herrera-Loera said it would help retain and attract teachers and other needed employees. She said affordable housing that won’t double in rent in six months is crucial.

“More teachers will want to come to Alum Rock, maybe not just because of the pay… but also because of the housing,” she said. “It’s a win-win in that our teachers are getting paid for their job and also being supported with housing.”

The Alum Rock Union School District board of trustees meets Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Learn how to watch the meeting.

Contact Lorraine Gabbert at lorraine@sanjosespotlight.com.

This story will be updated.

The post San Jose school district wants to fund teacher housing appeared first on San José Spotlight.

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