San Francisco district faces teacher shortage due to price of housing

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - The San Francisco school district says it is definitely harder to find qualified teachers these days.

A big reason is the lack of affordable housing in the city.

Katie Waller is a San Francisco middle school counselor, struggling with the high cost of rent.

"I live in a studio where half the income goes to paying rent," said Waller.

She says may eventually have to make a change.

"The way the housing market is going, it is going to force me to leave and look at other districts," she said.

Waller's dilemma is anything but unique for San Francisco educators.

It’s two weeks before school starts and the district is scrambling to find 51 more teachers against a backdrop of a skyrocketing cost of living and a dwindling pool of teachers to choose from.

"High school math is difficult to fill. Bilingual education. We have a lot of languages in the district," said school district spokeswoman Gentle Blythe.

School district superintendent Richard Carranza even sent letters to teachers last month asking them to refer any potential teaching candidates to the district.

They received 60 applications.

"That's a first. I've been teaching in this district for 25 years and I never got a plea from the superintendent," said Lita Blanc, head of the San Francisco teachers union.

She says it is becoming more difficult to retain good teachers where the average salary is under $70,000 a year.

"Among young teachers it’s their number one concern. I hear it all the time. I can't stay in the district if I can't find a place to live," she said.

The school district says another problem is fewer college students pursued teaching careers during the recession when many districts were laying off.

"We are worried. It is something the district has known is on the way. Now it's here," said Blythe.

The school district says it is still confident all the teaching positions will be filled by the time the school bell rings August 17.

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