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Knox Co. BOE to consider new substance abuse support program for high schoolers

The program, called "Elevate," would provide students in recovery a place to receive social-emotional support so they can graduate and maintain sobriety.

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — The Knox County Board of Education on Wednesday is set to consider a new program that would help high schoolers recovering from substance abuse and addiction.

Knox County, Knox County Schools and the McNabb Center are partnering for a program called "Elevate" that would provide students in recovery with a place to receive social-emotional support in order to graduate and maintain sobriety.

Participation in the program would begin in Fall 2021 with a class of roughly 10 students.

“Recovering from substance abuse and addiction is a difficult challenge, particularly for young people,” said KCS Superintendent Bob Thomas. “We believe the Elevate program will not only help students make progress academically, but will also support their social and emotional well-being in all areas of life. I am grateful for the Boyd Foundation, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and the McNabb Center for their investment in our students and school communities.”

The Boyd Foundation provided a more than $150,000 grant to help start up the program through the Knox Education Foundation fund. Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs said he would allocate close to $90,000 from the county budget to cover staffing costs for the first three years of the program.

“Without the proper support a student struggling with addiction will have a hard time graduating from high school and may struggle with what comes next – whether that’s college or trade school or something else,” Jacobs said. “Helping students overcome addiction and reach their potential should be a community priority. Every student’s success is critical to strengthening the workforce upon which business and industry recruitment rely.”

Mona Blanton-Kitts, the McNabb Center's regional clinical vice president who oversees school-based services, said research shows 80% to 90% of students who return to class following substance abuse treatment face relapse.

"This collaboration will provide students the opportunity to be successful at school, while continuing their recovery journey. We are excited to partner on this much needed project," she said.

The Knox County BOE is set to meet virtually on Wednesday, February 10 at 5 p.m. for its regular session.