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Warren County considers affordable housing to keep teachers

School administrators recently toured an affordable housing complex in Hertford County that is strictly for teachers. Within a year, the county would like to have a similar building.

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WARRENTON, N.C. — To reduce its teacher turnover rate, Warren County is considering building affordable housing to as a lure for new teachers.

School administrators recently toured an affordable housing complex in Hertford County that is strictly for teachers. Dare County also has a similar facility. Within a year, Warren County would like to have one too.

“Many of our teachers live out of the area or have quite a bit of difficulty finding affordable, good housing,” Warren County Schools Superintendent Ray Spain said.

New teacher Pablo Friedmann thinks the idea would ease the transition for new teachers "tremendously."

Before starting work as a math teacher at Warren New Tech High School, Friedmann struggled to find a rental property in the Warrenton area.

“I kind of, at the time, got a little frustrated,” Friedmann said. “I just started driving around and I didn’t really find anything except a couple homes for sale.”

As part of the Teach For American program, Friedmann is committed to teaching in the area for the next two years.

Friedmann ended up renting a house with three other teachers about a half-hour from Vance County. He said he likes the idea of the county starting an apartment complex for teachers.

The average teacher turnover rate over the past five years in Warren County was nearly 18 percent – higher than the statewide average of nearly 13 percent, according to a report released by the state Board of Education.

There were 196 teachers in Warren County during the 2007-2008 school year, according to the report. Of the 29 teachers who left that school year, eight had tenure.

The turnover percentage for the 2007-2008 school-year in Warren County was about 20 percent.

Spain said officials think affordable housing is “going to make a difference” in keeping teachers.

Rental property owner Al Fleming said he isn’t sure “that there’s a need” to build complexes for teachers. Fleming has owned rental properties in Warren County for more than three decades. He said there are more properties available than school administrators say and the new complex would hurt his business.

“I don’t think they need to be in the business. I think it’s wrong for them,” Fleming said.

To receive a loan from the State Employees Credit Union Foundation for the building, the county would have to partner with a non-profit organization, Spain said. The complex would be considered the non-profit's property and not school property.

School leaders said the project would not cost taxpayers anything.


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