MARION, S.C. (WBTW) — Marion County School District Tuesday unveiled new apartments geared toward providing new teachers an affordable place to live.
“It is just a win win,” district superintendent Dr. Kandace Bethea said. “A win for the community. A win for the district. And a win for our teachers as well.”
The the three studio apartments- dubbed DEN, which is short for Dedicated Educators’ Nest- are on the corner of Tom Gasque Ave and Bobby Gerald Parkway.
Dr. Bethea and board chair Ogleretta White cut the ribbon during Tuesday morning’s ceremony, as school and local officials watched.
“We thought this was just a perfect way to recruit teachers and to retain them in our community,” Dr. Bethea said during the ceremony. “To be able to offer low income housing as a recruitment tool.”
She said that a lack of rental options in the county presents a challenge to the district when recruiting new teachers.
“There are many challenges when it comes to new teachers,” she said. “One, you’re just starting out- the salary may not necessarily be where you need it to be. And of course in Marion County, where the tax base is different from some of our neighboring communities.”
“We wanted to think of a way to overcome those challenges,” she said.
The three units were renovated by district staff after purchasing the property. The project was made possible with funding through the Rural Teacher Recruiting Initiative.
“To be able to offer low income housing to our teachers, so that they can get invested into this community,” Dr. Bethea said. “And again with the state having those rural teacher proviso funds. It was just a perfect match for the district.”
Executive Vice President of the Marion Chamber of Commerce Cindy Rogers called the project ‘innovative’ and an ‘asset to our community.’
“This gives them an option of having some time to look around and a lot of them don’t have the ability to purchase a home,” she said. “So they’re going to have to do a rental. So we really need more affordable rentals in our area.”
Each unit is named for current and former high schools in the county- The Fox’s Den, The Auctioneer’s Den and the Warrior’s Den. Two of the units are 600 square feet and the other is 700 square feet.
Dr. Bethea said the district is already hearing interest and that it hopes to have all three occupied this school term.