Roaring Fork Schools board eyes staff housing solutions in preliminary talks

The Roaring Fork Schools Board of Education bids farewell to Natalie Torres and Maureen Stepp during Wednesday's meeting.
Taylor Cramer/Post Independent

In the latest meeting of the Roaring Fork Board of Education, the winds of change were as present as the dedication to future planning. 

While the board said goodbye to seasoned directors Natalie Torres and Maureen Stepp, they welcomed Anna Cole as the acting superintendent for the remainder of the 2023-24 school year. Yet, the focal point of the gathering was not the changing of the guard but the preliminary exploration of staff housing solutions.

Chief Operating Officer Ben Bohmfalk stepped forward not with proposals, but with ideas — seeds for discussion on how to combat the housing challenges faced by district staff. He referenced the success of the Basalt Vista Project, a beacon of what could be achieved through partnerships like that with Habitat For Humanity.

Among the ideas shared was the concept of a housing navigator within the human resources department. The role, as outlined by Bohmfalk, would be a dedicated guide through the complex landscape of housing options. 

“This stuff is really hard for folks to navigate,” Bohmfalk said. “I think having a housing navigator can do a lot.” 

The navigator would be tasked with assisting staff in finding housing, from applying for lotteries to securing financing, a testament to the district’s commitment to its employees’ well-being.

The board also discussed the possibility of continued support for housing initiatives and maintaining a housing navigator to ensure the district’s involvement in the housing market. 

The district is considering the potential of building additional housing on its land, a move that would follow the positive steps taken with Habitat for Humanity and could provide already existing units in Carbondale, as well as future developments in Glenwood Springs.

Bohmfalk also mentioned the Flying M Ranch property, which would provide 12 available units for district staff near the Riverview School, as well as the Meadowood housing project that is already underway.

Board president Kathryn Kuhlenberg underscored the weight of the housing issue. 

“I know we are losing staff and teachers to housing,” she said, highlighting the gravity of the situation and the board’s recognition that securing housing is as critical as the education provided by the district’s staff.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting is set for Nov. 29.

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