Affordable Caretaking

Affordable Caretaking

After-hours site security can be a challenge for schools, especially if they’ve got no funds to pay for security services. Even if they can pay a security service, the result would likely be limited to a nightly drive-through or two – something easily evaded by crafty trespassers. If your school is facing a similar conundrum, you might consider recruiting a caretaker or two.

What would that look like? At its most conventional, this would involve providing housing to someone in exchange for caretaker services. The caretaker would presumably wake up at the sound of shenanigans, and shoo away interlopers, or call police.

This can be a great arrangement if you have an appropriate building that can be easily converted for housing, which becomes a distinct possibility if the school has been down-sized, but at least as important is finding the right person for the position. Somebody with a clean background, non-smoking, non-drinking and safe around kids. That narrows it down considerably. Where might you find such a person? A couple of potential pools of candidates to explore: new or retired teachers trying to save a few dollars on rent, or families of current or past students. Schools could even double as retirement centers for teachers!conestoga3


Perhaps you don’t have a suitable building. Another option is to provide space for someone who can provide their own travel trailer to live in. A further approach being tested out in Eugene, Oregon is currently in place at the Tamarack Center, a private health facility that houses a variety of practitioners and an alternative school, Bridgeway House, which serves families impacted by autism. The facility was being targeted overnight by burglars, and something needed to be done on a limited budget. Their solution? A Conestoga hut.



This shelter was designed by a local private non-profit as affordable housing for the homeless. It has a number of laudable features: high affordability, (at well under $1,000,) tow-ability, livability, insulation,  and decent looks.  St. Vincent de Paul provided the background check and screening services to find decent candidates, the school had a hand in the final selection, and in the end they landed an on-site caretaker at very little cost.





Finding the right person for the right site is critical, but if a good match is found this approach holds promise. Only time will tell whether the arrangement works out. I’ll keep you posted.

Tod Schneider
Written by Tod Schneider

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