A California school district is asking parents to help them find new teachers, by renting out rooms in their homes for cheap.

Milpitas Unified School District, located in the San Francisco Bay area, has 18 schools and over 450 teachers for approximately 10,000 students. They aren’t particularly wealthy as a district, but housing prices in the area certainly don’t reflect that. The district lost 10 teachers in the 2021-2022 school year specifically because of prohibitive rent prices. Obviously, the same factor has made hiring new employees a struggle too.

Average monthly rent in the area is $3500, and a teacher’s salary there starts below $5600, meaning two-thirds of their salary would go to rent alone (and many rental companies won’t consider applications from salaries lower than 3x rent.)

“We’ve lost out on some employees that we tried to recruit because once they see how much it costs to live here, they determine it’s just not possible,” tells district superintendent, Cheryl Jordan to a local news station.

In a bid to retain staff being priced out of the area, the district has begun emailing parents asking any who can to consider renting out rooms to educators. According to a school spokesperson, the district has received 53 responses so far, but no commitments have yet been made.

The only true solution is to make teachers’ wages high enough to afford the area, but the district says its hands are tied by the failure of several recent school levies.

A major problem with this, aside from the crisis of teachers’ wages, is that it puts a strange power balance in play between teachers and the children of the families they may find themselves housed with. The California school district has not commented to address this. Housing teachers with students’ families is just not a fair, viable, or dignified solution.

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