Island teachers surveyed about housing situations

Superintendent Matthew D’Andrea approved a survey sent to teachers to get a better idea of their housing needs. — File Photo by Michael Cummo

In an effort to understand how the Island’s housing climate affects teachers, a survey has been sent to all Martha’s Vineyard public school teachers. The survey is meant to help the superintendent’s office address difficulties that teachers have in securing and maintaining Island housing. Superintendent Matt D’Andrea said that he will present the findings to the school committee.

“I’ve seen the challenges around housing for teachers. I’m concerned that we are losing good teachers because of their inability to find housing. I’d like to get a better idea of the impact on the staff,” Mr. D’Andrea said in a phone conversation with The Times.

Former high school principal Gil Traverso resigned from his post this summer after one year on the job, and cited housing as a factor in his decision to leave. Mr. D’Andrea said the results from this survey could result in school-sanctioned assistance for teachers, in the form of a housing or relocation stipend.

Last school year, approximately 50 teachers left the Island’s school system. Mr. D’Andrea said that he thinks fewer than 10 of those teachers left because of housing difficulties.

“It’s probably a small percentage, but it is a percentage,” he said. “I think it is an issue, and it is a challenge for teachers to come here. And we are losing some good teachers because of it. I’m trying, with the survey, to get a better idea of how many teachers that is.”

Topics the survey addresses include whether teachers own or are renting their home, how many people they live with, whom they live with, and whether they are considering leaving the Island. The survey, which has 15 questions, has the option to be anonymous, Mr. D’Andrea said.

The survey was emailed to teachers at 10 am on Monday, Oct. 26, and will be open for responses for three weeks. By 2 pm on the day it was sent out, 100 people had responded, Mr. D’Andrea said. The survey was created by Sophie Abrams of the Island Housing Trust, and was based on a similar survey the trust had created for its own purposes. The Survey Monkey platform that was used to create the survey will compile the results into digestible graphs, which Mr. D’Andrea will present to the school committee.

When asked about the likelihood of the school system financially assisting teachers in either their housing transitions or with a regular stipend, Mr. D’Andrea said he did not think it was impossible.

“How to do that will be challenging. But I do think it’s possible,” Mr. D’Andrea said.