More teacher housing in line for Aspen School District
The Aspen School District will have the potential to house up to eight families with the purchase of five residential properties it has under contract.
On Monday, the board of education unanimously approved the acquisition of two units on West Main Street, which followed its March 1 blessing of the purchase of three duplex lots in Basalt.
The district will pay $740,000 for each Main Street unit and $225,000 each for three undeveloped lots in the new Stott’s Mill subdivision located between Basalt High School and the Southside Drive neighborhood, according to Superintendent David Baugh.
The purchases, just shy of $2.2 million in total, are scheduled to close this spring. They will come after district voters in the November elections approved giving the board authority to spend up to $95 million on capital improvements through general obligation bonds.
Those improvements include major campus upgrades and the push to buy more housing to hire and retain teachers. Bond proceeds can’t go toward teacher pay raises — an ongoing issue at the Aspen public schools — but school leaders hope the freshly minted housing will add some allure to join and stay with the district.
“We know that school districts are only as good as the teachers working in them, and housing is a priority,” Superintendent David Baugh said Friday. “It’s part of what we hope to offer as part of a compensation package. … We know the salaries aren’t the greatest, but if you do have employee housing and reasonable compensation in Aspen, then that’s pretty attractive.”
The district currently has 50 housing units in its inventory. They are spread between Aspen and Carbondale, while the district offers bus transportation to faculty and staff who live downvalley.
The district also was the beneficiary of some favorable timing with two new projects on line.
One is Stott’s Mill, reportedly the last large residential neighborhood to break ground in Basalt, which also has three lots reserved for the Roaring Fork RE-1 School District. The ASD was able lock into a contract for three of the four remaining deed-restricted duplex lots.
“The bonding gives us the fuel and the energy to get this thing purchased and get it quickly designed and constructed in a pretty efficient manner,” board of education member Dwayne Romero said at the March 1 meeting.
Romero said an aggressive timeline puts the duplexes completed this fall with occupants moving in by the end of the year. He called that a “best-case schedule.”
Also slated for the 18-acre site are 64 apartments in four buildings, and a combination of 49 single-family home and duplex lots. The developer is MSP Development Group.
Meanwhile in Aspen, private developer Ted Guy has been selling two-bedroom apartments to employers, and the school district is in line to acquire two of the project’s eight deed-restricted units.
The district will pay $740,000 for each unit, Baugh said. One unit comprises 849 square feet and the other 874 square feet, according to Pitkin County property records.
The Main Street apartments are ideal for school district employees starting families, and the Stott’s Mill duplexes, while not designed or developed yet, will be for more established families, Baugh said.
“We bough them (at Stott’s Mill) because we don’t have many units that a full-size family can fit in very comfortably,” Baugh said.
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