Idea of CMS ‘Teacher Village’ sparks wide range of opinions online

CHARLOTTE — Charlotte City Council passed its budget Monday night, which included contributing $1 million in accrued interest from stimulus funds to support the effort to create workforce housing for teachers struggling under the weight of the economy.

The idea of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and the City of Charlotte partnering on a first-of-its-kind affordable housing development for teachers has sparked tons of opinions on social media.

Channel 9′s Jonathan Lowe spoke with a CMS teacher by phone who did not want to be identified. She said she was unsure if a “Teacher Village” was the right answer.

“I think it’s fair to say that I think that they need to look at some more perspectives before they move forward with it,” the teacher said. “A solution for a hundred is not addressing the whole.”

The proposed development would be a 100-unit apartment complex for teachers making 60 to 80% of the area’s median income. It’s a category more than 9,000 CMS teachers fall into.

Many of the comments online claim the teacher village would be a bandage that doesn’t address the bigger problem. However, CMS school board chairwoman Stephanie Sneed said the proposal addresses data that came from a teacher insight survey last year.

Of the 5,000 that responded, 93% said housing costs were their most important consideration. And 61% said housing may impact whether or not they continue to work with CMS.

“I wouldn’t say there’s a lot of opposition because this decision for this pilot is definitely data-based,” Sneed elaborated. “These are apartments that any person would want to live in.”

Charlotte’s median home price is just over $1,400 a month, with an annual salary requirement of more than $61,000. However, the average CMS teacher makes around $46,000.

“It absolutely does not solve the problem of teacher pay,” Sneed said.

But Sneed said this is just a pilot idea — one that, if successful, could be extended. However, some teachers within the district do not believe this is the solution to the issue.

“Until we address these really statewide issues of upward mobility and the ability for teachers to earn a livable wage, they’re going to keep leaving,” one teacher said.

CMS’s investment in this project would be land valued at $1.5 million, upon which the teacher village will be built.

The school board will have to approve the piece of land that will be selected. The district hopes to have it completed by 2027.

VIDEO: Proposed ‘Teacher Village’ would create affordable housing for CMS teachers

Jonathan Lowe

Jonathan Lowe, wsoctv.com

Jonathan is a reporter for WSOC-TV.

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