According to a new report, Fresno is among the most affordable cities for teachers in the U.S.
The report, released by Apartment List – a company that helps people find homes – compared teacher salaries and cost of rent in 50 U.S. cities. Fresno teachers spend an estimated 15 percent of their income on rent – making it the most affordable city for the profession, except for Wichita, Kansas, according to the report.
On average, teachers in Fresno County make between $65,000 and $80,000 annually, and median monthly rent in Fresno is about $1,200, according to a Zillow report released earlier this month.
The most unaffordable city is San Francisco, where teachers spend nearly 70 percent of their income on rent. Three other California cities also made the “most unaffordable” list: Oakland, ranked sixth; San Jose, ranked eighth and Los Angeles, ranked ninth.
15 %Percent of their income that teachers in Fresno spend on rent
“Teachers facing rents far out of their price range often must decide between long commutes or financial stress,” the report says. “If these trends continue, city officials and school districts may face increasing struggles to attract and retain teachers.”
Despite Fresno’s advantages for teachers when it comes to cost of living, local school districts are still facing a teacher shortage – like many other districts across the state and country.
Fresno Unified currently has 135 teacher openings. Cyndy Quintana, the district’s human relations administrator, is optimistic that most of those positions will be filled soon.
Her team has been traveling across the country to tap teachers, and has put ads in newspapers near Los Angeles and San Diego – cities that were recently hit by teacher layoffs. She has been hosting job fairs for prospective teachers, and hosted a booth at the Vintage Days festival this weekend at Fresno State to get the word out about the continued need to fill classrooms.
We tell them they can actually afford to buy a house here. That’s appealing to people.
Cyndy Quintana, Fresno Unified human resources
Quintana says Fresno’s affordability is one of her main selling points when she recruits out of the area.
“We tell them they can actually afford to buy a house here. That’s appealing to people,” she said. “We talk about our national parks; that the traffic is minimal and about how family is important here.”
Fresno Teachers Association President Tish Rice is not so optimistic about the Apartment List report, though. She says teachers may move to a district like Fresno Unified, but it’s what happens once they’re hired that determines if they stay.
“We don’t have the high cost of living like down south and up north, but the district should be asking how come they’re still struggling to fill positions,” Rice said. “Teachers just want to work in a school where they feel supported, valued and accepted. If you feel like you don’t have a voice, you’re not going to stay anywhere for very long.”