In many cities and towns in Montana, the cost of living has skyrocketed in recent years. Soaring housing prices in the state have made it difficult for businesses to hire new employees, and pay them enough to actually live here.

One of the places that have been hit the hardest during these challenging times is schools. Montana is dealing with a major teacher shortage. According to recent data from the National Teacher and Principal Survey, schools in Montana are having trouble filling nearly 60% of vacant positions. In many places, schools are unable to pay teachers enough to find a place to live. Teachers in Montana are highly valued, but affordable housing is scarce.

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Unfortunately, not all children in Montana are receiving a quality education, and several schools in the state are being forced to switch to online learning due to the teacher shortage. One town in Montana has taken matters into its own hands and is working hard to find a solution and help new teachers find affordable housing.

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Montana Town Helping New Teachers Find Affordable Housing

The North Yellowstone Education Foundation was founded six years ago by a group of parents in Gardiner, Montana who recognized the changing landscape and decided to take action. NYEF has been working tirelessly ever since to support education in the community and ensure that new teachers have a place to live.

NYEF has successfully funded $800K to support phase one of its Teacher Housing Initiative (THI). The initiative is a collaborative project with Gardiner Public School (GPS) and aims to attract and retain teachers and staff by providing affordable housing to supplement their wages. Three years ago, NYEF began remodeling a historic house built in 1904. Today, all three units are occupied by GPS teachers and staff.

I've spent almost 20 years living in National Parks. For many families who rely on national parks for income, choosing a job usually comes down to the availability of housing, the location of the school, and then the job itself. GPS is highly respected and offers education from kindergarten to grade 12. This was the reason my family was drawn to Yellowstone. As I got more involved in the community, I learned that our teachers were nearing retirement age and that finding housing was a major issue. I joined the board of NYEF and started working towards supporting the THI plan. I'm proud of the progress NYEF has made in just six years. Although the first phase of our THI plan is finished, we're moving on to phase two to ensure we can continue meeting the school's needs.

said Laura Chastain, NYEF Director.

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According to a press release, the $800,000 project was made possible with the help of numerous donors, including The Park County Community Foundation, George L. Ohrstrom Jr. Foundation, Gianforte Family Foundation, Steele-Reese Foundation, Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Gardiner Area Resort District, and First Interstate Bank and Foundation. Additionally, private donors have contributed over $350,000 to the project.

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