MILPITAS, Calif. (KRON) – Milpitas United School District is asking families to consider renting out spare rooms to teachers in the area, according to a statement from MUSD.

On Aug. 23, MUSD’s Board of Education adopted a new resolution recognizing the high cost of living as an issue in retaining high-quality educators. MUSD reportedly lost teachers and support staff to other districts “because of the high cost of living in Santa Clara County,” the statement said. MUSD says that at the end of the 2021-2022 school year, seven teachers left the district to move to “more affordable communities.”

Since the letter seeking rooms for rent went out to families, 48 people have responded with available rooms. MUSD says this shows the strong connection educators have with their students in Milpitas, “this is evidence that our entire MUSD Team, which includes our teachers and classified support staff, is valued by our Milpitas community members, parents and caregivers.”

Diana Orlando, President of the Milpitas Teachers Association, says the discrepancy between teacher pay and cost of living is a national problem, but it’s particularly challenging because of high costs in the Bay Area. Orlando tells KRON4, “People don’t pay us what we’re worth. If you look at someone who has an undergraduate degree and one year of graduate school, like an engineer, and compare our first-year salaries, we are probably paid $35,000 less.”

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Teacher pay is based on level of experience and education. Orlando says that many teachers come into MUSD with a degree and an additional 30 units. According to the 2022 certified teacher salary breakdown provided by MUSD, a teacher with this experience and a college degree earns $68,121 per year. According to the tax calculator from Talent, after taxes the salary comes out to $51,220 per year, or $4,268 per month.

A recent study by Apartment List, found the median price of rent in the San Francisco area is $2,370. The lowest-priced rental currently listed in Milpitas is a one-bedroom apartment that will cost $2195 per month before utilities. This means that many teachers in MUSD are likely spending close to half of their take-home pay on housing–leaving little room for other needs like groceries, utilities, and paying off student loans. Rent Cafe’s rent affordability calculator suggests that people with this income should be staying closer to 30% of their gross pay, or $1,657 per month in rent.  

Median rent costs across SF Bay Area, courtesy of Apartment List

Orlando went on to describe how dedicated teachers are to their profession, “While we do believe we are underpaid, we also have a passion for what we do.” Many teachers spend some of their own paychecks to support their classrooms. Orlando says she would spend between $4,000-$5,000 each year out of her own pocket to improve her classroom.

Orlando says that one way we can support or local teachers is by paying close attention to educational funding provided to school districts. “It comes down to politics and allotment of money from education at the federal level down to the state level,” Orlando said.

Salary negations in MUSD will take place this September, and Orlando has faith that the district will back the needs of teachers to earn more in our area. For now, teachers with MUSD can find more affordable housing through the rooms for rent process, “This is just one way we, as a district and as a community, are working to recruit, retain and support our amazing MUSD educators who may need assistance in finding a place to call home,” MUSD said.