Letter: The numbers don’t add up for teachers

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Here is a math word problem. A recent college graduate from a school of education at one of our state universities takes the position as a third grade teacher in the Asheville public schools. She (or he) has always wanted to be a teacher and loves Asheville. Her primary goal is to make a living in her chosen profession as a professional educator.

She’s receiving a salary of $42,000 a year. She rents a single-bedroom apartment at the average price of $1,700 per month for a total of $20,400 for the year. In state, federal and Social Security withholding, she pays $7,500 for the year. She spends $500 a month on utilities, cable, food and necessities for a total of $6,000 for the year.

The cost of automobile insurance, car payments on the remaining balance of her vehicle, maintenance on her vehicle and gasoline cost $416 per month, or $5,000 for the year. She allows herself $40 per weekend for leisure activities such as going to a movie, going to a concert, going out to eat and having a beer with friends. This totals $2,080 for the year.

She carries the average amount of debt from college, which is $30,000. She pays an average of 6% interest on those loans. She only pays the required interest with an annual cost of $1,800. Her total expenses for her first year living in Asheville as an educator are $42,780. She has spent $780 more than she has earned as a professional educator, and she has no savings.

Assume that she decides to continue to be a teacher, remains single and that her income and expenses increase at approximately the same rate. (In today’s Asheville market, that is highly unlikely.) One of her primary goals is to eventually own her own home and build equity.

The price of a small house in Asheville in today’s dollars is $400,000. She must have a 5% down payment of $20,000. As a professional educator with a college degree, will she be able to purchase the house in: (A) five years, (B) 10 years, (C ) 15 years or (D) never? With the correct answer, can you see the problem?

— Richard Boyum


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5 thoughts on “Letter: The numbers don’t add up for teachers

  1. Hiram

    One solution: Tax incentive program for local landlords willing to rent homes to teachers long-term rather than as short-term housing for tourists.

    More to come.

  2. Hiram

    Another solution: In addition to handing out millions of dollars in corporate welfare to developers and wealthy baseball team owners, how about some down payment assistance programs for teachers and law enforcement? (Those receiving help would agree to pay back up to 80% of the money if they sell their homes and leave their positions within 7-8 years. This money would return to the down payment assistance fund to help others.)

  3. Peter Robbins

    Here’s a simpler idea, Hiram: Increase teacher salaries; reduce single-family zoning and other barriers to cheaper housing; expand, if necessary, rent and mortgage subsidies; and watch the free market do its thing. The only thing missing is some way to punish vulture capitalists for being greedy and evil, but I’m sure progressive Asheville can come up with a pillory or something for that. Maybe where the Vance Monument used to be?

  4. Enlightened Enigma

    This is how they (the controllers) want life to be, and you will like it or be cancelled.

  5. Mike

    50 years ago I had a new PhD in Math and MS in Computer Science from UNC and a new job as an assistant Prof at Clemson that paid $12,000 a year. . I had a 10 year old car that bought used and I owned free and clear. But as a new Assistant Prof, I couldn’t afford a home in Clemson either. I got pay raises every year and a promotion to Associate Prof in 4 years and tenure a year later. And SIX years after I started I was able to afford a small 1400’sq foot house. Virtually all of my Clemson peers rented when we arrived. A new college grad with no savings should not expect to afford a house. A new K-12 teacher should enroll in a Ed masters program. Most of it can be taken on line and in summer and shouldn’t take more than 2 years and will produce a substantial salary bump.. There are likely sources of financial aid available..

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