The state has announced a nearly $2.4 million, five-year grant for Northshore Recovery High School, ensuring the future of the state's first high school for students, including those from Cape Ann, recovering from addiction.
The school opened five years ago on the bottom floor of the Memorial Building on Cabot Street in Beverly with the help of a five-year state grant. That grant expired this summer, so officials sought a second grant to keep the school running.
"I think we were all a little bit nervous," director Michelle Lipinski said. "In this economy, you have to fight for every penny. We're excited."
The school has 51 students this year, and enrollment could reach 70, Lipinski said. It serves students from across the North Shore, including Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester and Essex, who have a history of substance abuse.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health also awarded grants to the state's two other recovery high schools, in Springfield and Boston, and to a new school scheduled to open in Brockton in December.
"These schools are crucial to support the ongoing recovery of adolescents struggling with addiction and are an important component of our treatment and support system," Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach said in a press release.
The five-year grant, which comes to $475,000 per year, represents the school's second major source of funding behind tuition. Tuition is $12,000 for students from the school's 18 member districts and $14,000 for students from nonmember districts. The tuition is paid by the student's home district.
Northshore Recovery High School is run by the Northshore Education Consortium, which operates special education programs for youths with emotional, behavioral and development disabilities. Lipinski has been the director since it opened and has a staff of 11.
"We've had a lot of success stories," said Colleen Dolan, executive director of the Northshore Education Consortium. "All of our kids pass the MCAS. They're dealing with some significant disabilities, but they have strength. Many of them have gone on to two- or four-year colleges."
Dolan said the state grant keeps tuition relatively low. Tuition for therapeutic programs typically ranges from $30,000 to $80,000, she said.
Northshore Recovery School is an 11-month program that provides support for students during the summer and on weekends and vacations, Dolan said. The school has also begun training school nurses, psychologists and therapists who work in public schools to recognize signs of abuse in students, she said.
Students are referred to the recovery school by parents, courts, state agencies, treatment centers and residential programs. Those referrals must be support by the student's local school district. Students must interview for admission and must be sober for 30 days before being admitted.
Earlier this year, Northshore Recovery School was featured in a documentary shown nationally on Current TV. Lipinski said it's important for the school to continually promote its mission so that people realize the need.
"Despite efforts by the government," Dolan said, "we still have a significant substance abuse program among our young people," Dolan said.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.