WINNSBORO, S.C. — A shovel full of dirt is representing years of work in Fairfield County to build a new 'teacher village' that aims to bring low-cost housing to educators as an incentive to work and stay in the rural district.
Fairfield County is using $2 million of the money received from a lawsuit over the failed VC Summer reactor to bring educators to the county.
"When they started talking about this teacher village I'm like yes, please. We need it really really bad," Audrey Browne, a Fairfield county teacher said.
Twenty-two acres of 75 single-family homes created by the district to make living more affordable, conveniently located and supportive to teachers.
"It could be 8:30 at night and you really want to talk to somebody about something that you're trying to plan for a lesson maybe for that next morning and you want to roll it off someone else's back, and let them give you their input. I would be able to do that," Browne said.
Audrey Browne has been a history teacher for Fairfield Central high school since 2018.
She'll be one of the first to live in this new village and she said she sees incredible benefit from this concept.
"I think that it would really encourage new teachers to come here because it would be a full community that would be able to back them when they needed it, be able to support them," Browne said.
According to Fairfield County school leadership, 70% of teachers in Fairfield county don't stay.
"The more stressed out a teacher is from finances, from having to travel so far, not getting enough rest, all of those things impact what you're able to give to the kids," Browne said.
The district said this village is a solution to that problem.
In all, this "teacher village" will cost the school district around $4.5M. After receiving $2M from Dominion Energy, as part of the lawsuit settlement, that covers about half the cost.
The Fairfield County school district plans to take out a loan for the remainder of the funds.
District leaders say the first home in this village will be ready by 2023 and the entire village should be completed in 2024.
The village will be open to certified full-time teachers to start out. Then they will expand opportunity to other employees of the district, but will always keep teachers priority.