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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 21, 2017

 

The Roaring Fork Schools officially launched its affordable staff housing program at the beginning of this year. Staff members moved into all 23 of the finished housing units in Willits and Ironbridge in September and October and are already seeing benefits from their new housing situations.

“One primary goal with this program was to fill every unit with staff. We’re really pleased that we’ve been able to meet the staff need,” chief operating officer Jeff Gatlin said.

This affordable housing opportunity made staying in the valley to work for the Roaring Fork Schools possible for some staff members. Nicole Forristal joined the Roaring Fork Schools team as a kindergarten teacher five years ago and quickly faced the affordable housing challenge. Forristal moved into one of housing units at Willits earlier this year.

“Before staff housing became available, we feared that we would have to relocate back to Denver so that we could afford to own a house once again,” Forristal explained. “When affordable staff housing became a reality, we decided to apply so that we could be able to pay our bills and actually have money to save for the future. In just the short time that we've lived in staff housing, we've saved so much on gas alone because our commute is no longer an hour long.”

The ability to save for the future is a common theme for many staff now living in the district’s affordable housing. Rob Norville joined the Roaring Fork Schools nine years ago. Both he and his wife teach in the Glenwood Springs schools and had been commuting from New Castle.

“When we learned that there would be three-bedroom units available in Glenwood Springs, we saw it as our best opportunity to be able to live in the community where we worked, while still being able to save some money for the future, so we applied,” Norville explained.

Norville also noted the positive impact on his family of living in the same community where his daughters attend school. “Now that we live here, it is easier for the girls to socialize with their classmates outside of school,” Norville said. “It is also easier for us to be involved in some of the extracurricular community activities, such as volunteering for school committees or working with and supporting local nonprofits and advocacy groups.”

Forristal’s children have been enjoying the same benefits from living where they attend school. “We have been able to set up more playdates for our children because they're closer to their friends now.”

The housing units currently under construction in Carbondale and Cardiff Glen in Glenwood Springs have already been assigned to staff through a staff lottery that was held last spring. These housing units are on schedule to be completed in the summer and fall of 2018. Going forward, the district will continue to assess how to improve and build upon the affordable staff housing program by engaging the staff housing committee for an annual review process.

“The affordable staff housing program is an important benefit that will help us recruit, hire, and retain the best staff for our district, which is a strategic priority,” said Gatlin. “We are so grateful for the community and taxpayer support to make this program possible.”

Taxpayers voted to support the district’s $122 million bond issue in 2015, which included $15 million in funds to build a minimum of 15 staff rental units in each community. This investment is already making a big difference.

“Staff housing has really helped us get back on track so that we can prepare for the lives we want to live after staff housing. I am so thankful and grateful to the teachers, parents, and community members that made this a reality!” Forristal said.

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