Organizers of a proposed “recovery” high school in Rochester say they're making progress in their goal of establishing a school dedicated to students who are trying to overcome addiction.
The grassroots organization Recovery Now NY has been leading the effort for the past three years. Executive director David Attridge said they have just completed a request for information from the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services and Governor Cuomo's office.
There was an informational public forum at Gates Town Hall on Tuesday night. Gates is where Attridge would like to see the school located. He said the town leaders and many residents have been supportive of recovery efforts in general.
"I'm hoping a lot of those residents come to see what it's going to be all about, but anyone who has any interest in the whole epidemic.....I'd like to see them come as well, to see how this could be part of the solution."
A recovery high school is an alternative, multi-service school for students diagnosed with substance abuse disorder or dependency.
Staff would include substance abuse counselors and mental health professionals.
As Rochester and communities across New York State deal with a rapidly increasing number of deaths due to the epidemic of heroin and opioid abuse, Attridge said there is a sense of urgency to establish a school exclusively for students who are struggling with addiction.
The proposal his group is sending to the state includes partnerships with Villa of Hope, which would provide onsite counseling and outpatient services for students and families, and ROCovery Fitness, which would oversee physical education and sports teams for the school.
"That part hasn't been done around the country that I have seen,” Attridge said. “This could be a model for other schools."
Building relationships and support within local school districts will also be a key to the success of the proposed school, Attridge said. "We're going to want all of the districts to be able to send the students there and to be able to set aside the money and just have this program work and get students better."
Recovery Now NY has partnered with BOCES 1 and BOCES 2 to develop an educational structure for the proposed school. Organizers say this would enable students in all school districts served by BOCES 1 and 2 to attend the school.