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$700,000 In State Funding Requested For Jacksonville Teen Addiction Recovery School

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A Jacksonville high school for teens in addiction-recovery wants to be able to serve more students and provide additional programming. The nonprofit school is asking the state for $700,000.

The River Oak Centeruses classroom space in Arlington’s St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Northeast Florida students ages 14 to 20 can go for free, for as long as they need to.

Since opening in November 2016, it’s served about 35 kids. The school is part of a national network of recovery schools, and River Oak is the only of its kind in Florida.

Related: Duval Sober High School Up and Running

School Director Dan Renaud said most of the students smoke marijuana, and many are abusing prescription medications. “Typically Adderall and Xanax are the two biggest culprits there,” he said.

Some use opiates or drink alcohol Renaud added.

The school drug tests students weekly, though they get to continue attending regardless of the outcome. And the school provides family, personal and academic counseling.

The students do classwork online with the Florida Virtual School, and the Duval School District provides a teacher and computers at a cost of about $100,000 a year.

“And then we provide other enrichment type activities ranging from yoga, to weight-training,” Renaud said. “We operate the community garden for Arlington.”

But he says if the state approves the $700,000 ask, the school will be able hire more therapeutic staff, add more activities and fund buses.

“That’s really the thrust of using that money is to be able to develop better ways to get kids to the program and have the staff ready for them when they get there,’ he said.

Renaud said lack of transportation is one of the biggest barriers keeping students away. This month he’s been able to hire one bus to pick up kids on the Northwest side, but he says that’s not enough.

The funding bill is being sponsored by Neptune Beach Representative Cord Byrd.  

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.  

Copyright 2020 WJCT News 89.9. To see more, visit WJCT News 89.9.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.