Board member presses teacher housing

The Monroe County School Board doesn’t need building permits to start creating below-market rent teacher housing on Sugarloaf Key behind the public school.

“The School Board is our own permitting agency,” said Andy Griffiths, who’s been on the board for 25 years. “Kind of like the military. We have to listen to the Army Corps of Engineers.”

Griffiths wants the board to immediately start building two-bedroom concrete homes behind Sugarloaf School and says in all his years on the board has never seen so much public interest in a proposal.

“Five teachers per school are on the edge and that’s going to get bad fast,” Griffiths said about teachers displaced due to Hurricane Irma.

Developers have pitched similar ideas, but Griffiths said they’ve always been plans that are too dense. His is simple, bare bones and effective, he said.

Teachers at any Keys public school would be eligible for the homes, which would be built to withstand Category 5 hurricane winds. Each home would cost $112,700, not including the finishing work. Griffiths says his idea is to build at least 20 houses of about 800 square feet each, possibly mixing in some studios or three-bedrooms. He’s been talking with Leesburg Concrete Co. of Leesburg, Fla.

“We don’t have to make money, we just have to do the right thing,” Griffiths said.

The other four board members showed interest in pursuing the housing plan and Chairman John Dick told staff to look into it as a top priority.

The board meets Tuesday at 241 Trumbo Road in Key West at 3 p.m. for a workshop before a 5 p.m. meeting. Housing is the fourth item on the workshop agenda.

Sugarloaf Key is about a 40-minute drive from two-thirds of the School District’s enrollment, Griffiths said.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen