DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — The Douglas County Board of Education is trying to find ways to attract and retain teachers.

Since local taxpayers denied a mill levy that would increase teacher salaries, the district is getting creative by working on a plan that would create low-rent housing options for employees.

As it stands, District Superintendent Erin Kane said Douglas County teachers earn $43,680 a year, and that there is nowhere in the area where people making that amount can live comfortably.

Without being able to increase salaries, many teachers are leaving for other districts.

During the board of education meeting Tuesday night, Kane introduced a proposal that would use land already owned by the county, the 10-acre Meridian Village subdivision off Meridian Parkway and East Mainstreet, to build new lower-income apartments specifically for district employees.

Kane is working with Shea Properties, one of the largest developers in Colorado, to create one to three-bedroom units. Douglas County would own the property while Shea would develop and manage it.

The proposal was met with extremely positive reactions from the board.

David Ray said, “I’ll just say wow. I love the concept of the partnership. I just love, love the concept it makes a lot of sense.”

Another board member shared, “Everything about this conversation is the right thing to do. We have to find creative ways to take care of our employees.”

There are still important questions to be answered, including whether it is possible to reserve the units specifically for teachers as opposed to anyone who is low-income, and what happens if someone living there leaves the district or begins to make too much money.

For now, the superintendent is working with Shea and the board of education to get those answers.