Roaring Fork School Board gets earful on housing assistance for superintendent
Editor’s note: The headline for this story was updated to correct the sort of housing assistance being considered by the Roaring Fork School District.
The Roaring Fork School District Board was flooded with a barrage of questions Wednesday night regarding the district’s plan to grant a $500,000 housing-assistance investment for the superintendent, possibly starting with current Superintendent Jesús Rodríguez.
The plan, which would provide both Rodríguez and future superintendents assistance in finding housing in the Roaring Fork area, has caught the attention of both district staff and taxpayers.
“One of the things we heard during the superintendent search process directly from our community that was incredibly important to everyone was that the superintendent lived within district boundaries,” board Vice President Jasmin Ramirez said during the specially called “town hall” meeting to discuss the proposal. “We really wanted to make sure that we were competitive in pay, and that we also made it clear to the future leaders of our district that we wanted them to be able to live in our district boundaries.”
In a statement at the regular March 15 board meeting, Rodríguez said he would likely decline the offer when all is said and done, given the concerns that have been expressed.
Though the school board has emphasized the importance of providing both present and future superintendents the opportunity to comfortably live within district lines, questions continue to spark as to how teachers and other staff are supposed to do the same for their families.
“The way we are looking to support our staff is starting in June, we are hoping to break ground on 50 new units for which we are spending in the neighborhood of $26 million,” said board member Kenny Teitler.
With the planned addition of 50 units at the Meadowood project in Carbondale, plus the existing 124 units the district has available for teachers and staff, one question posed on Wednesday related to the first-come, first-served nature of assigning the units. The board was able to clarify which staff members would be granted the best opportunity to occupy the units, based on the district’s housing policies.
“It’s a lottery system, and there are different factors that are weighted, including assets, income, and all of those things,” board President Kathryn Kuhlenberg said. “If we have someone coming in who has huge personal assets and is able to purchase in our district … then, no, we are not going to offer up dollars and assistance.”
While board members stressed the importance of both retaining and bringing in “high-quality leaders,” the topic of housing and affordability for teachers and staff will continue to be one that is discussed for the continuation of the school year.
The school board is set to meet next on April 12 to further discuss both the district-wide housing plan and assistance for the superintendent, specifically.
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