AUSTIN (KXAN) — Rental prices in Austin could be impacting teacher retention in Austin ISD, but the district is hoping to help keep teachers with current and future programs and housing.

“In AISD, we have an exclusive deal with the Austin Apartment Association,” Arnoldo Gutierrez, assistant superintendent of human capital with Austin ISD, said.

In a partnership announced on KXAN earlier in April, the school district is working with the Austin Apartment Association to find apartments that will offer incentives for teachers.

“From discounted rates to waving some fees,” Gutierrez said. “It is something that is exclusive for our teachers in Austin ISD.”

According to Zumper, as of April 2023, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Austin was close to $1,600.

“We want our teachers to be able to live where they work,” Amie Ortiz, interim executive director of employee effectiveness, experience and sustainability with AISD, said.

Ortiz said the district is working on multiple ways to help teachers and the incentives directory is just one of them. The directory is currently open for teachers and staff.

“If there are other ways we can create these partnerships to bring employees’ monthly costs down then we want to do that,” said Ortiz.

Under the housing resources for staff page, there is a list of helpful tools, including the housing directory.

“They can search by the area of town, by the type of apartment… one bedroom, two bedroom and it lists all of the participating properties,” Ortiz said.

Only teachers and staff in AISD are eligible for the deals, which include reduced rent, waived deposits and free parking.

Once on the site, you can click on a property to see what incentives they are offering.

Some teachers said these deals aren’t enough and that salaries have to increase even more to keep teachers living in the communities they teach in.

Right now a starting salary in AISD is about $52,000.

For years, Austin ISD has talked about developing some sites to offer affordable teacher housing, like the Anita Ferrales Coy facility.

On March 23, the board of trustees unanimously passed a resolution to direct the interim superintendent to identify a development partner for that facility.

The district is in the process of drafting a request for proposal, which will be issued in June 2023. 

“Our focus is building high-quality, attainable housing,” Jeremy Striffler, AISD’s director of real estate, said.

Striffler says Austin ISD will lease the property to a development partner who will run the site.
Teachers and staff will have priority access to affordable homes, but the housing will be open to anyone who qualifies.

“At the end of the day though it is your income that qualifies you, not your employer and our partner will be the one who operates and manages the housing,” Striffler said.

Austin ISD is also looking to add housing to the Rosedale School site and Sims Elementary site.

“All these efforts we are doing around housing are by no means to replace the need to increase compensation,” Striffler said.