School programs for students recovering from alcohol or drug abuse make up a small but important slice of alternative public education in Minnesota, but their future is in doubt, advocates told the House Education Finance Committee on Wednesday. In the past four years, six recovery schools have closed, leaving just seven operating this year, said Paul McGlynn, who directs Sobriety High Charter School. The enrollment capacity of those schools is 278 — far fewer than the number of young Minnesotans who are struggling with drug addiction, he said.
Rep. Linda Slocum (DFL-Richfield) sponsors HF165, which would create a two-part funding formula to increase state aid to recovery programs run by school districts, charter schools or area learning centers. The first part of the formula would reimburse the programs for 20 percent of salary costs for qualifying support staff such as drug counselors and school social workers. The second would increase per-pupil funding for students in recovery school programs.
It’s unclear how much the proposal would cost the state; a fiscal note on the bill has yet to be completed. Several lawmakers on the education finance committee had questions or concerns about the bill’s financing.
The bill was laid over by the committee for possible inclusion in the omnibus education finance bill. It has no Senate companion.