In light of the region’s growing housing crisis, Teton County School District No. 1 is making a plan.
At its monthly meeting Wednesday, the school board approved a contract with Navigate LLC, an affordable housing consulting firm run by Christine Walker, who used to lead the Teton County Housing Authority. The district is hiring Navigate to help develop a five- to 10-year housing plan over the next six months.
Walker’s role will be “looking as we evaluate the opportunities that are in front of us to make sure that we make the best possible decisions moving forward to address our employee housing issues,” Communications Director Charlotte Reynolds told the board Wednesday.
Like many other Teton County employers, the school district is in the process of assessing housing needs and solutions. In recent weeks, it surveyed staff and found that nearly three-fifths of respondents said they pay at least 40% of their salary toward housing.
Staff members also said a higher number of them would live in Jackson or Wilson, putting them closer to work, were cost not a barrier. Because the district has large swaths of property near its individual schools, Superintendent Gillian Chapman told the Jackson Hole Daily, it could ostensibly develop housing on those sites.
However, future expansion plans for the schools could bump up against housing, so Walker will help balance those needs.
“We were having the discussions of what’s the proper mix, where’s the proper place, and we needed someone to guide us,” School Board Chairman Keith Gingery said Wednesday. “Hopefully Christine’s the one to guide us.”
Over the next few months, Walker will help the district evaluate its housing needs, opportunities and challenges, a staff report says. Then, by January, she will assist in developing priorities for district-owned properties for the next several years.
Walker’s contract with the district is for $36,000.