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The Big Sky (Mont.) district is building affordable housing for teachers.

Montana district begins construction of housing for teachers

The Big Sky district says its difficult to retain teachers because of the scarcity of affordable housing.

The Big Sky School District in Gallatin County, Mont., is building affordable housing for teachers in an effort to keep them from leaving their jobs.

NBC Montana reports that the district has broken ground on housing that it is constructing in partnership with Habitat for Humanity.

Superintendent Dustin Shipman says that the high cost of housing is a key reason that teachers are not remaining in the area. He estimates that teacher turnover is between 5% and 8% a year.

Shipman adds that higher housing rates in the resort area that encompasses the district have turned potential hires away in the past.

"At the ninth hour in the recruitment process, when they really start looking and imagining what their life is going to look like on a day-to-day basis, we lose them," he said.

David Magistrelli, executive director for Habitat for Humanity of Gallatin Valley, says the goal is to have teachers pay rents that are about 30 percent of their monthly income.

Magistrelli says some teachers about paying $1,200 to $1,300 a month in rent—that’s around 45 percent of their monthly income on a base salary of $33,000.

The two buildings under construction will accommodate 12 residents. The Big Sky District has 35 teachers on staff.

The goal is to have the new housing complex ready by the fall.

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