Novato Unified Hires First Staff Housing Director

The Novato Unified School District has hired its first full-time Director of Staff Housing Development to focus solely on the housing needs of district staff. The appointment – believed to be the first of its kind in Marin County – is a testament to the importance of housing in addressing California’s teacher shortage.

NUSD’s new housing official is Derek Knell, who served on the school board from 2005 to 2022. He’ll earn a salary of $117,024, the Marin Independent Journal reports

“With the current workforce trends and staff shortages, coupled with the high cost of living in Marin County, the need to attract and retain employees has never been greater,” said Superintendent Tracy Smith. “NUSD wants to offer employees additional benefits — and housing could be one of those benefits.”

“Lack of affordable housing continues to be a challenge in recruiting and retaining educator staff statewide, but especially in Marin,” according to the Marin Environmental Housing Collaborative. Numerous attempts at building educator housing have stalled, despite incentives from the state.

“With the passage of recent legislation, the trustees realized that to truly understand our options and move forward, there needs to be a dedicated staff member to fully explore the potential of educator housing,” Knell explained.

He plans to establish a new housing committee which “will gather feedback from all staff and community stakeholders to help shape the process through solicited input and their involvement in decisions.” The committee will provide the public with regular updates and will help identify a potential development site for staff housing.