Fairfield County School District experiments with new housing model for teachers
WINNSBORO, SC (WOLO) — Last year, the Fairfield County council accepted a $99 million settlement with Dominion Energy after the company canceled a nuclear construction project in the rural county.
The Fairfield County School District says around $2 million of this settlement will go towards helping teachers.
“We’ve been steadily trying to improve our ability to make Fairfield County an attractive place for teachers to land,” said Fairfield County School District Superintendent Dr. J.R. Green.
Many of Fairfield’s teachers have to commute. The district reports that more than 70 percent do not live in the county.
“One of the largest issues that you find is that when you recruit them, they can’t find any place to live,” Green said. “Even when they want to be a part of your community, they can’t be a part of your community because there’s not suitable, available housing.”
The school board also hoped to fix this problem and along with the superintendent, they looked for solutions.
“Dr. Green came back to us and said ‘Well I might have something. I want y’all to look at this.’ He talked about a small little community and school district called Hertford,” said Fairfield school board chair Henry Miller.
Hertford is a small county in North Carolina. Dr. Green says the superintendent is a friend that showed him their model of keeping teachers living in the community.
“They were doing two bedroom apartments which is really nice and it was doing a good job for them,” Green said. “As I thought about it, I said ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could do a two or three bedroom houses?’”
The housing would consist of one or two-story, three-bedroom homes that range from 500 to 700 a month rent.
The project hopes to do more than just reduce teacher’s commute.
“Another responsibility of this project is to try to create a sense of community and sense of support for our teachers,” said Dr. Sue Rex, chair of FCSD Education Foundation.
Superintendent Green says he believes this project will not only be transformative for the school district but also the Winnsboro community as a whole.
“Because when you get people to locate in a community and they circulate disposable dollars, that attracts business,” the superintendent said.
The first phases will construct 30 houses on acres between the school district building and the high school, but there is space for up to 75 houses.
“It’s a great day in South Carolina but it’s also a great day in Fairfield County,” Miller said.
The district celebrated a groundbreaking on the project at a ceremony on Thursday.