School Views: Making progress on housing
As the new year gets underway, we want to provide an update on our housing efforts at Eagle County School District. Our Housing Master Plan released in April 2020 outlined a goal of creating 120 housing opportunities for district employees and facilitating housing opportunities through partnerships, programs, and connecting employees with existing resources.
Our ambitious Edwards Housing Project is a 37-unit apartment complex built by Eagle County School District and RA Nelson that will consist of a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom rental units. After breaking ground in March 2022, those driving by the project today will see vertical construction progress being made. While completion dates remain fluid, the forward progress has us taking the next steps in the eligibility and rental stage of the project as the district works to adopt that policy. These apartments will only be available for rent by district employees, including our educators and support staff.
Eagle County School District is excited about the innovative funding for this project. This 37-unit complex is being built without any taxpayer dollars. I think that bears repeating. We are successfully accomplishing this project without the use of public monies, and it is a sustainable model that we can repeat in the future. We were able to secure funding for this project through Certificates of Participation. These act similarly to a mortgage and will be paid off completely through the rental income derived from the units.
We’re also extremely proud of our housing partnerships. Our Grace Avenue Habitat for Humanity project, which was completed in 2020, houses six district families with an additional six units constructed in 2021 for other Eagle County families. This partnership with Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley is now focused on the 3rd Street Housing Project directly adjacent to Eagle Valley Middle School. This parcel will see the development of eight duplexes. Of those 16 total units, 12 are earmarked for sale to qualified district employees, with the other four being sold to residents of Eagle County that qualify. That application process is available on the Habitat website, and the groundbreaking is expected to take place in the Spring of 2023.
And finally, our housing efforts are supported by our stakeholders. Last summer, I reached out to the community, and you responded and helped us to increase housing opportunities for our staff throughout the valley. We were able to add 185 rental units to our internal inventory as a result. We understand that the housing crunch affects every industry and is certainly a major challenge here in Eagle County. We feel that through our efforts, we’re entering 2023 with the ability to continue to attract and retain quality staff members, which in turn provides the best educational experience for our youth.
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Our children and our staff deserve better, and we will fight for them as best as we are able. The new year also ushers in a new legislative session, and I believe that we will continue to hear more about potential changes to the broken K-12 funding system. That is truly the root of many of the problems seen throughout the state’s education system.
If we want to see success in every arena of public education, we need to address this structure. Sitting 48th in the country in per-pupil funding, Colorado is in dire need of revamping how we fund our schools. We have to do better. I intend to have these tough conversations with our state legislature in hopes of creating a better funding model for our staff, students, and families.