Vail School District turns to tiny homes to retain teachers

Vail School District turns to tiny homes to retain teachers
(Source: KOLD News 13)

VAIL, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Vail School District has an idea to help retain quality teachers – a community of tiny homes.

The master plan includes 24 units on district-owned property off Colossal Cave Road. District officials said they hope the idea accomplishes a couple of things with the community.

First, they hope it provides an affordable place for educators to live in an area that can be costly. By doing that, school leaders hope the plan helps retain and attract teachers to the district.

They also hope it provides a sense of community for teachers.

LuxTiny, a company based in northern Arizona, delivered the first home this week. The company is customizing the homes to match each teacher's preference. The size of each is up to 500 square feet.

Sydney Scharer is moving into the first home. She currently lives in Tucson and has to commute to Senita Valley Elementary School where she teaches math.

She said the first home will allow her to live in Vail while saving money.

"It was hard to find a place to live, somewhere affordable and somewhere in Vail, those things don't really go together right now," she said.

She says she's happy to be able to live in the community she serves.

"It's kind of still that little bit of disconnect between being in Tucson and being a part of the Vail community. But being able to join into that community and just be close to work makes it convenient and just have a community of teachers that's just a whole game-changer for a lot of teachers."

Despite the positive reaction from teachers like Scharer, the idea of tiny homes for teachers hasn't come without criticism. Some say teachers should be paid enough so they don't have to turn to tiny homes.

But school leaders say they hope it helps keep quality teachers in the district, a challenge faced by many districts.

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