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Lompoc Unified School District announces pursuit of education workforce housing Tuesday

Lompoc Unified School District

LOMPOC, Calif. – The Lompoc Unified School District announced Tuesday a proposal for education workforce housing for employees in the District.

Below is a press release on the announcement from the LUSD:

On Tuesday, May 14, 2024, the Lompoc Unified School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously 5-0 to pursue Education Workforce Housing (EWH) for employees in the District. This important decision will have a positive impact on the District and the City, potentially bringing 100 or more below-market rental units to LUSD employees. 

Lompoc Unified will be joining an increasing number of districts and cities across the State and nation using this emerging strategy to retain and recruit employees by supporting their housing needs. Fifteen districts in California are currently under contracts or amidst construction of EWH developments. 

This comes at a critical time with skyrocketing housing costs and educator shortages. The Board of Trustees approved a resolution that reads, in part: “... the District expresses its unequivocal support for the future development of workforce housing, as a strategic initiative to enhance the recruitment and retention of District employees and to bolster the District’s capacity to deliver outstanding educational programs and meet the goals for the betterment of the students of Lompoc.” 

Here is a link to the EWH Resolution. This decision comes after a six-month exploration into EWH guided by experts from the California School Boards Association, UC Berkeley’s Center for Cities and Schools, and UCLA’s City Lab with support from the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative. In December 2023, LUSD was selected, along with four other districts, to engage in an exploratory process to determine the need and initial feasibility of EWH for the District. 

Various public-private partnerships for financing are currently being explored, with no general fund or general obligation bond dollars to be allocated or expended on the construction or maintenance of EWH. Lompoc Federation of Teachers President Skyler Petersen commented, “I’m so excited about this initiative. 

As part of the EWH Committee, I was able to see firsthand what education workforce housing looks like. To be clear, below-market housing does not mean substandard. This would be high-quality housing offered to our employees at rental rates that would meet a very real need to retain and attract the best employees possible—both certificated and classified—so that we can provide the high quality education that our students deserve.” 

LUSD Board President Franky Caldeira is beyond excited to bring Education Workforce Housing (EWH) to Lompoc. He shared, “As a highly-engaged Board, we are in regular contact with staff members, visiting classrooms, and attending events. 

I know firsthand how challenging it has been for many of our employees to find affordable housing. In a recent survey of all our employees, nearly half of the 500-plus employees who responded indicated that the cost of housing negatively impacts their ability to stay at LUSD. A similar number indicated that they have considered leaving the District due to the high cost of housing. 

Our decision to move forward with EWH is an important initial step in the process with many more important decisions ahead of us. This initiative underscores our unwavering commitment to supporting our staff's well-being and enhancing educational outcomes for our students, affirming our dedication to prioritizing the needs of those who nurture the future of our community. ” 

In a statement from Superintendent Dr. Clara Finneran, she said, “I am thrilled about the opportunity to create Education Workforce Housing for our employees. Our employees are our greatest asset, and this long-term strategy will significantly help our District retain and recruit the best employees well into the future. 81% of employees who responded to a recent EWH survey agreed that the high-cost of housing negatively impacts the District’s ability to retain and recruit employees. 

We are fortunate to have such strong support from our Board and employees to tackle this challenging issue facing districts across the nation and State.” 

The Lompoc Unified EWH Committee includes: 

● William “Franky” Caldeira, Board President 

● Tom Blanco, Board Member 

● Dr. Clara Finneran, Superintendent 

● Skyler Petersen, Teacher, President, Lompoc Federation of Teachers 

● Amy Jamar, Bus Driver, President, Local CSEA Chapter 

● Douglas Sorum, Assistant Superintendent, Business Services 

● Dr. Sally Kingston, Director, Communications and Engagement

Lompoc Unified School District
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