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High Cost of Living May Force Midland Teachers to Seek Another Place to Work

Josh Navarro
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - It's an issue many are experiencing here in the Basin. The high cost of housing is putting a strain on those who's salaries may not have grown as quickly as the economy and that strain is certainly having an effect on local teachers. Some in Midland may not even return for the next school year because they just can't afford a place to live. NewsWest 9 contacted the Texas Classroom Teachers Association about the dilemma.

"Education is a labor of love. It's a calling," Terrill Littlejohn, President-Elect for the Texas Classroom Teachers Association, said. 

Littlejohn is giving a voice to those educators who may have to pack their bags and find their labor of love in another city.

"Many teachers have found that they can not afford the rent or house notes in this area and they are relocating to other areas where they can afford to live," Littlejohn said. 

Teachers who have been teaching for more than five years are considering looking for positions elsewhere. He says the oil boom may be good for the economy but it's having a trickle-down affect on educators whose salaries cannot compare.

"I'm happy for those people that are in it, and they're making good salaries, but everyone is not in it. So in a way we are being penalized because they are making outrageous or wonderful salaries and the teachers are not," Littlejohn said. 

Littlejohn says the teachers who are being directly impacted are those in a single family or single income household. Another challenge is replacing those teachers who leave with other educators.

"If a teacher can not find a place to live when they come and interview, they're not going to give Midland a second thought. I just spoke to a young lady yesterday who is a teacher, this is her fourth year teaching and she starting to look elsewhere because she got notification last month that June first her rent is going up $600, not a year, $600 per month and she cant afford it," Littlejohn said. 

According to Littlejohn, apartment owners should set aside 10% of their apartments for teachers and keep them at a rate teachers can afford. That way schools can keep a solid base of teachers in Midland. He also says they plan to bring the issue up to the school board soon.

As far as how students would be impacted, there may be an increase in the number of students per classroom. Littlejohn says it's not the best solution but it's a solution. He says that teachers in Midland who are facing that dilemma still have their full focus on their students while they're in the classroom. 
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