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Local & Regional

Vision-Funded Teacher Village Not Out of the Question

City of Tulsa

The "live" piece of a Vision-funded teacher recruitment effort known as Teach, Live T-Town may not be forgotten after all.

Tulsa's Vision sales tax renewal included $10 million for the initiative. Jenks, Union and Tulsa district officials recently indicated they prefer using that money for training rather than housing.

But city councilors say training might soon be funded by other sources, like a proposed penny sales tax. That has several councilors — including G.T. Bynum, David Patrick and Phil Lakin — again thinking housing is the way to go.

Lakin said a good project could be a recruitment tool.

"We really want these monies to be used for something that is extraordinary, that a teacher living in California or Massachusetts or anywhere else hasn't ever seen," Lakin said. "And they can — the world can look at Tulsa and go, 'Oh, wow. We've never thought of that.'"

Preliminary plans had the city redeveloping the 100-year-old Laura Dester shelter into 60 units of affordable housing. The city could move away from building its own village by letting a private developer step in, which would dramatically reduce the city's capital costs.

Lakin said that would help teachers and redevelopment efforts.

"We're populating an area of town. The more people you have in that part of town, the more able we are to attract grocers or restaurateurs or retail establishments," Lakin said.

Discussions between city and district officials are ongoing, but a decision needs to be made before sales tax revenue starts coming in.