Thrifty digs for teachers a ‘priority’ in S.F.

In hopes of keeping high-quality educators in San Francisco’s public schools, The City and the San Francisco Unified School District are working on several initiatives to make housing more affordable for teachers.

A recent survey conducted by the San Francisco Department of Children Youth and Families revealed that housing assistance was the top nonclassroom perk The City could offer to keep teachers from leaving the district. From fall 2005 to summer 2007, the school district lost about 16 percent of its teachers, according to a report accompanying the survey. The report also notes that to hire and train new teachers is expensive — one estimate puts the cost at approximately $3 million for the last two school years.

There are three programs through The City or the school district to help offset the cost for teachers to rent or own a home in San Francisco.

“This is a high priority for us,” Mayor Gavin Newsom said. “This [subsidizing teacher housing] is an opportunity to demonstrate the priority in a meaningful and substantive way.”

The first program would provide monthly rental subsidies to new or existing teachers who fulfill not-yet-determined requirements, such as committing to working for the district for a certain length of time.

“We’re looking at five years, but that might change,” said Claudia Sandoval, director of City and School Partnerships, a newly created position. Funded this year with $270,000 from The City’s Department of Children, Youth and Families, Sandoval said The City hopes to roll out the bprogram in fall, supporting 75 teachers at first, and more than 200 teachers within the next three years.

The second program would offer teachers who are first-time homebuyers a loan for a down payment. Matthew Franklin, who heads up the Mayor’s Office of Housing, said his office plans to ask the Board of Supervisors to earmark the $1 million in new funding Newsom included in next year’s budget for The City’s Downpayment Assistance Loan Program — all for teachers.

The San Francisco Unified School District recently put out a request for proposals for developers to submit ideas on how districtproperty could be used to create affordable housing that could be for rent or for sale to teachers. Six proposals were received by a mid-June deadline and are being reviewed, the district’s facilities chief, David Goldin, said.

Salaries for teachers in San Francisco range from $44,366 for a new teacher to $76,483 for a senior teacher with 27 years experience, according to district data. The current median housing cost is $835,000, according to Data Quick Information Systems. The starting price for a one-edroom rental in San Francisco averages around $1,300 a month, according to RentalGuide.com.

beslinger@examiner.com

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