Salida High School students finish building home for teacher

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SALIDA, Colo. --  There are a lot of school systems in Colorado that have work force programs for their students so they can get extra experience outside of the classroom.

There are even some school systems in our state that have specific neighborhoods so their teachers have affordable housing options.

What you probably won't find is a school system that combines the two concepts. That's until now.

The schools in Salida are trying something new.

Teachers in the area would love to be able to own a home, but the one we spoke to just can't afford it.

The median price tag for a home in Chaffee County, Colorado is around $350,000. The Salida school district confirms teachers start out at $34,000.

“I didn’t think it would be feasible. I had priced some things and anything in my price range was going to be pretty old and not ideal," Salida High School teacher Chelsea Carpenter said.

The path to home ownership for some young educators just doesn't add up. That's until the students in class started spending their days outside the school walls.

A student, Caleb Ediger said, “I haven’t heard of any other schools doing it.”

“I feel like it’s for a good cause, it’s affordable housing for teachers," another student, Layne Carpenter said.

For almost three years now, students have leveled and laid, cut and carved.

“This is totally school. We get out here in the morning at about eight and we go for three hours of the day," Ediger said.

“We started from just a bare field with a bunch of cactus and weeds in it, we measured it out, got our foundation dug, and started it from there, from the ground up," Layne Carpenter said.

The project is at the tail end. The two-story duplex will soon be a teacher's home.

"You wouldn't think that a bunch of high school students built this," Chelsea Carpenter said.

It's all thanks to the hard work of the students and tons of donated supplies. The price tag on the duplex is $30,000 below market value.

“I can actually afford it," Chelsea Carpenter said.

Carpenter will move into one side of the duplex, the single family home connected is still vacant.

The school system now owns the entire lot where Carpenter's home is located. The goal moving forward is to fill the space with more homes, which means more affordable housing for teachers.

Teachers are entered in a drawing to see who can purchase the home. If no teachers want the second house then it will go on the market.

Students will also continue to get internship credit for their work on the houses.

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