Teacher housing on tap in Tyonek

Posted: Monday, June 20, 2005

The poor condition of two aging trailers used as teacher housing has contributed to teacher turnover in the remote Cook Inlet village of Tyonek, but all that may be about to change, thanks to a $235,000 grant from the Denali Commission Teacher Housing Program.

An ordinance to accept and appropriate the grant was introduced at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly's June 7 meeting. Ordinance 2005-19-03 gets a public hearing Tuesday.

Coupled with the $325,000 remaining from a $350,000 borough appropriation for teacher housing in fiscal year 2004, the grant would make it possible to build a duplex with three-bedroom units.

In a memo to the assembly, borough Project Manger Bill Dunn said the borough doesn't normally engage in developing housing projects, but that this project would fill a long-recognized need in the community.

Once the money is made available, the borough would enter into a contract with the Native Village of Tyonek and Cook Inlet Housing Authority. The village would contribute land and utility connections, the authority its housing development and management expertise, Dunn said.

The assembly passed a resolution in 2004 supporting the application for the grant, which comes through the Alaska Housing Finance Corp.

Tim Peterson, human resources director for the school district, said the new facility would solve a host of problems, turnover being one of them.

The district expects to replace the entire four-person staff serving the 54-student K-12 school this August. The current administrator has been there two years, the three teachers just one year each.

Prior to that, one teacher stayed only one year, the three others for three years.

The trailers serving as teacher housing at Tyonek are old and not inviting. They've been there since at least 1980, Peterson said. It is hoped the new digs encourage educators to remain in the village longer.

With just the two trailers available, the district had to find and hire teaching couples to fill its Tyonek slots.

The trailers still will be used, but with the addition of the duplex, the pool from which to select teachers should become larger, he said.

"It will allow us more flexibility in hiring," he said.

Just who gets to move into the new units when they are done sometime around the beginning of next year probably will be a matter of seniority, Peterson said.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District will manage the duplex the same way it manages its other teacher housing units. The borough would handle regular maintenance and routine repair, as with all borough-owned teacher housing, Dunn said.

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