Can’t find housing: one reason why Vermont schools are almost 3,000 educators short

VHFA photo

By Guy Page

With the first day of school just three to four weeks away, almost 3000 posted openings for educators remain unfilled – and lack of housing is one reason why, according to the 802 Ed newsletter.

“The wild ups and downs of the last school year have finally simmered down, at least as far as the job market is concerned. Or have they? There were almost 3,000 posted openings in early June, and now that number is… still hovering just under 3,000,” Editor Steve Berbeco said in the August 1 issue

Every school district has its own “first day of school for students” schedule. Montpelier, for example, begins its school year Thursday, August 25. The Southwest Supervisory Union, by contrast, holds the first day of school on Wednesday, August 31. 

Early data from the past couple weeks is trending to good news. Teacher postings have dropped by about a third, principal postings have dropped by about half, and postings for aides look pretty steady. (Data from SchoolSpring)

Berbeco called the high demand for educators “a buyer’s market – at least for jobs in education.”

He cited at least one pressing reason why schools are having a hard time finding educators: lack of housing. “The housing situation may seem intractable for many buyers. Recent analysis published in Stateline points out that almost 20% of all home sales in this state last year were to investors, contributing to an even smaller inventory of available properties for school staff looking to buy a home.”

In addition to the pandemic-era phenomenon of investor purchasing of Vermont real estate, other contributing factors to Vermont’s unprecedented affordable housing shortage are:

  1. A net growth in Vermont population by about 5000 during the pandemic.
  2. Lack of new housing. In 2021, Vermont was 48th in new housing permits (1,487) and units authorized (2,319), leading only Alaska and Rhode Island. 
  3. Steep increase in cost of homes for sale. The median Vermont primary home sold for $295,000 throughout the first six months of 2022, compared to $270,000 throughout 2021, a 9.3 percent increase for the first half of the year, the Vermont Housing Finance Agency reported July 21. The median single family non-vacation home sold for $300,000, the median condominium sold for $286,250 and the median manufactured home sold for $130,000.
  4. Growing interest rates. A conventional home loan at present carries an interest rate of 5.5%, VHFA said. In other words, financing 80% of a 30-year loan $300,000 home at 5.5% interest, after a $60,000 down payment, would produce a $1,363 mortgage payment. Interest rates are on the rise nationwide as the federal government raises the prime lending rate in an effort to reduce inflation.
  5. Other home ownership cost increases. Vermont property taxes and home insurance would add an estimated $600 (depending on community and location). The estimated “pre-buy” cost of heating oil at present is $2.05 per gallon, or about double of last winter. 
  6. Renting market tight, too – VHFA reported in March that “Vermont has a low rental vacancy rate, being approximately 2-3% behind the national average. In some places like Chittenden County, the currently rate hovers around 1%, which makes it difficult for renters of all income levels to find an apartment, and makes it increasingly near-impossible for low-income households.”

Categories: Education

12 replies »

  1. As a former educator, housing might be on the list but it is topped by: pressure to be vaccinated, woke ideology, behavior issues without solid behavior intervention & support from admin, etc. Housing might be solved but the rest continue to be issues. Glad to be out of the system. Many paras and teachers are leaving for these same reasons.

  2. Vermont has about the highest teacher:student ratio in the US and the commensurate personnel costs are the major driver of education spending. This housing shortage is about the only pressure there is to temper down the number of teachers/assistants/aides etc etc so i suppose it does have an advantage there. In reality though, the failure to fill all the vacancies has had no effect on the actual budgets. We can thank the VTNEA for that.
    This scenario presents an interesting ideological conundrum. Typically people who favor lavish spending for public school resources also harbor a general aversion to new real estate development. Something has to give.

  3. …and taking into account the substandard wages/pension-related for teachers in Vermont; not surprised in the least. When someone decides to relocate, it’s usually for more than one thing. Vermont is like a beautiful woman with no substance.

  4. There is a partial explanation for both a significant number of open positions in Vermont’s public schools AND the lack of affordable housing.

    As a result of between $100-$200 billion dollars of pandemic associated funds directed to public schools across the country in part to “remediate” learning deficiencies associated with school closings during the pandemic, many new hires have been created.

    In South Burlington 24 FTEs have been generated with pandemic relief funds that will be available through 2024. No doubt other communities are using the funds to hire as well. In aggregate we are probably talking about hundreds of new positions (if not more) that, more likely than not, school districts will be say are critically needed even after federal funding for the positions expires.

    Housing costs have gone up because more than $6 Trillion dollars of pandemic relief funds (all borrowed or created by the Federal Reserve by pushing buttons on a keyboard) were distributed by the federal government, much of which was meant to encourage people to spend to keep the economy going strong.

    That more than $6 Trillion dollar tsunami of money, in associated with the Federal Reserve keeping interest rates close to zero which kept mortgage rates low, led to a home buying frenzy and bidding wars…. which drove up the purchase price of houses

    The moral of the story is actions have consequences. When the government parachuted trillions of (borrowed) dollars into the public domain during the pandemic it gave citizens enormous economic firepower. That combined with the Federal Reserve wanting to keep the economy blazing hot with low interest rates (and thus low mortgage rates), was a recipe for economic chaos.

    Question: Do they teach actions have consequences in Vermont pubic schools?

    • Mr. Silverstein, you wrapped up the explanation into a concise nutshell and the neat little bow is mentioning how the “tsunami” of federal money, still wet off the printing presses is causing all kinds of problems from labor shortages to inflation. The question stands, yet is largely rhetorical: do they teach actions have consequences in Vermont public schools?

  5. At the federal level, what had been four departments is now fifteen …. In the cabinet are also the Vice President and any other person in the executive department that the President wishes, such as the Ambassador to the U.N. or a National Security Advisor. Education was started in 1979 under Carter. Why not do away with 10 or 12

    Since cabinet members are usually department heads, they are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Other than confirmation, there are no legal or constitutional requirements for the job. They serve at the whim of the President. They may, however, be impeached as any federal officer may be. Unlike in many other countries, members of the cabinet are not members of the legislature. In fact, the Constitution prohibits any member of the Congress from being an officer of the government.

  6. I believe that this housing crunch will do even more damage when young Vermonters leave the state for better housing and career options than we as a state can offer. With zero regulations on short term rentals our housing stock is now non existent. People from far away states with much higher incomes are scooping up short term rentals and driving up real estate costs and laughing all the way to the bank.

  7. what’s the enrollment look like? how many students are not coming back to public (errrr…Government) education system. Thanks to Act 46 many reappraisals during this all time high RE bubble ..hope it doesn’t bite homeowners in the … like 08 (07 reappraisal)
    School Choice …I support. give parents a choice, let the system sustain competition…….it will benefit all children in the future…

  8. Wonder how many of these posted openings are for Teachers Aids (T.A.)? Why are these aids necessary? I would doubt that most, if not all of us, had a single Teacher. My Elementary classes had 25 to 30 students. Middle school, High school, the same. One teacher!

  9. There are too many unfilled positions in K-12 education because public education is a bloated, unproductive system. If more families homeschooled their children, the need for “professional” educators would go down.

    • Dont be fooled into thinking that this will reduce any school budgets. The Vermont education bureaucracy is a bloated pig thanks to the Vermont democrat party being a wholly-owned subsidiary of the VTNEA teachers union.

Leave a Reply