TRENTON — The Middle Township School District has received a grant that could lead to it creating an addiction-recovery high school for South Jersey.
The district will receive as much as $100,000 to assess, research and plan a program to become the third recovery high school in the state, the state announced Wednesday.
“We can read in the paper every day where the opioid addiction and other addictions continue to grow and continue to be a problem in every community — not just South Jersey, but across the state,” Middle Township Superintendent David Salvo said. “Our greatest resource is our children. We need to help them find their way and get back on track, and it starts with a high school diploma.”
The Recovery High School Planning Project grant is part of the state’s anti-opioid campaign to create or enhance opportunities for addiction prevention, treatment and recovery.
Salvo credited Director of Curriculum Toni Lehman, lead grant facilitator, with helping the district receive the award.
“She worked with many members of our community to discuss the possibilities of applying for this grant and what this grant could do for us,” Salvo said.
The grant will cover costs associated with assisting all students in South Jersey, not just the immediate area, who face addiction to catch up on their education, Salvo said. The district is looking to host the school at an off-campus facility somewhere in Cape May County, he said.
“The options are limited here as compared to other counties for students and families that deal with addiction. We thought, well, this is just one more way of helping those students and families get what’s most important to them and that’s an education,” Salvo said.
The existing recovery schools — Raymond Lesniak ESH Recovery High School in Union County and KEYS Academy in Matawan-Aberdeen in Monmouth County — each received $1.3 million to increase the number of students able to attend the programs.
Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington said schools teach social and emotional skills as well as academic material.
“By providing schools with these opioid curriculum resources and expanding the educational opportunities for students battling substance abuse, New Jersey children will know more about the health risks associated with opioid use, persevere through recovery and be empowered to seek help for themselves or others,” she said.