Education

Hoke building apartment complex to attract, retain teachers

Posted January 17, 2013

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— Many rural North Carolina school districts have trouble recruiting and keeping teachers because there's not enough affordable housing in the communities.

Hoke County Schools attacked the problem by building an apartment complex in Raeford for teachers. The $2.4 million project on Teal Drive will include 24 two-bedroom apartments – a police officer will live in one to provide security – and construction is expected to be complete in time for the summer teacher recruiting season.

"We were losing some of those qualified teachers to surrounding counties because of housing," school district spokeswoman Jodie Bryant said Thursday.

The State Employees Credit Union Foundation provided a no-interest, 15-year loan for the apartment complex. The credit union financed similar projects in Dare County, where other apartments are too expensive for teachers, and Hertford County, where rental housing is non-existent.

“They keep losing teachers to the surrounding counties,” Mark Twisdale, executive director of the SECU Foundation, said of the rural districts.

Jackie Boneshefski said she couldn't find an apartment near Raeford when she landed a job at Upchurch Elementary School five years ago.

Hoke County classroom Apartments could help tie teachers more closely to Hoke

"I ended up getting an apartment in Fayetteville, which was rather expensive," the 28-year-old fifth grade teacher said. "I would drive 45 minutes in the morning, and some afternoons it would me an hour and a half to get home."

Boneshefski said she was tempted to seek a job with Cumberland County Schools so she could work closer to home. Instead, she recently bought a house in Hoke County.

"I like the area. I like how it's quiet and just a close-knit community," she said. “I felt like I was put here for a reason, and I love my colleagues and I love my students.”

"We want all teachers to get attached to the students and their school and to have a sense of commitment," Bryant said.

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  • kermit60 Jan 23, 10:11 a.m.

    Great idea to retain teachers but what about the social workers, police, fire fighters, EMS etc. I'm sure they all would like the county to help them with housing also.

  • superman Jan 17, 7:36 p.m.

    There must be an abundance of double wides available.

  • carrboroyouth Jan 17, 7:25 p.m.

    Would you really want to live that close to your coworkers? ;]

    mmtlash, that is a great point. Perhaps a school bus for the teachers!

  • westernwake1 Jan 17, 6:14 p.m.

    This is an innovative concept. In many rural counties one of the reasons they can not hire the best teachers is that there are no apartment complexes designed for professionals that provide a safe & secure home located in the county. The only apartments available are Section 8 which teachers do not qualify for because their starting income is above the limits (This ignores that most Section 8 complexes are dangerous high crime areas and most teachers are females).

    I have one family member who was a teaching fellow and rejected offers from rural counties because she could not find safe housing in a 'professional' apartment complex anywhere in the county. This issue causes the loss (for the county) of some of the best teaching talent that our state has to offer.

    It is good to see Hoke moving forward with this idea.

  • mmtlash Jan 17, 6:08 p.m.

    Think of the carpooling possibilities!