Williston School District Forced to Sell FEMA Trailers | VideoEvan Kruegel | 8/2/2012
"What we`re running into is finding them affordable housing. A teacher starting out makes $31,500 a year. So anybody can do the math: if you`re going to pay two or three thousand dollars a month, thereís no money to feed yourself on, so the teachers couldn`t afford that," said Superintendent Viola LaFontaine.
LaFontaine had to do something, so she devised a plan. She knew of some FEMA trailers available for purchase in Minot, but she`d have to convince the planning and zoning department that the housing need for teachers was at a critical level.
It took weeks to convince the city to adopt an emergency measure, which would allow housing on school property. The trailers would have gone in a back field of the Lewis and Clark elementary school, but when installation day came, the district ran into some unexpected costs
"We were in the process of checking about hooking up sewer and water, and we found out we`d have to dig up part of the road, and it was going to cost $83,000 dollars to put my $5,500 FEMA trailers in place. So we just couldn`t spend that kind of money.Ē
The city now has to try and sell the trailers, the catch? Used FEMA trailers can only be sold to other non-profit organizations.
"I sure wish we could keep them. If we could find an affordable way to get them in place, we would. But at this point we have teachers housed for now. As we continue to hire teachers we`re just kind of playing it by ear. There`s no set plan, but there`s more housing on the market so hopefully we can find something affordable. But with all the things that we have going on, I didn`t want to spend any more time or energy or money on trying to get the trailers set up, so thatís why were looking at selling them and at least getting back the money we put into them."
Incoming teachers are currently doubling up with roommates, while the FEMA trailers sit empty in the high school parking lot. For now, the district has housed each and every incoming teacher, but the trailers would have been a nice luxury to have.