A proposal to create recovery high schools for students battling addiction may become a reality in Tennessee. The bill passed both the state House and Senate and now it is waiting for Gov. Haslam's signature.
State Rep. Eddie Smith is sponsoring HB 1460 and he said he has the governor's support.
"In Tennessee last year, we had over 33,000 students that used an opioid or heroin non-medically," he said.
Smith saw an opportunity to help these students suffering from addiction. His bill would allow school boards to voluntarily create recovery high schools. It would give kids treatment and schooling in one place so they can graduate.
"Maybe instead of having music class or art class, those classes may be substituted instead with a peer support group," he said.
According to the bill, if a student transfers from the recovery high school to another public school, all earned credits would transfer to the other school. Also, a student graduating from a recovery high school would receive a diploma from the high school the student attended prior to enrolling in the recovery high school.
"This has the potential to really turn someone's life from a direction they were headed, which would be down a path of destruction, and really is a chance to get them back on the right path," he said.
Knox County School Board Chairman Patti Bounds supports the idea but believes financing could be an issue. She has spoken to Smith about recovery high schools.
"Maybe if commission works with us and sees a need for this, then maybe we'd be able to go forward," she said.
If a local education agency decides to build a new recovery high school, expenses are estimated to exceed $1.3 million.