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High school for recovering addicts may close (UPDATE)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s only high school focused on helping students recover from drug and alcohol addiction may be forced to close due to financial difficulties, according to administrators.

In 2005, Horizon High School opened in Madison to educate students who are at least 30 days sober. Since then, it has helped more than 100 students make a positive change in their lives. Fifteen students are enrolled this year.

“We’re kind of in the business of saving lives,” said Horizon director Traci Tisserand Goll. “We are there not just during the school day — because our school is small, we have communication with our students on weekends and holidays. Obviously addiction doesn’t keep school hours.”

The private nonprofit school will face a deficit of $10,500 each month in the coming school year if it continues to offer therapeutic services, school board president Michael Christopher told the Wisconsin State Journal.

He said the school’s current operating budget is about $220,000 to cover staffing costs, including a full-time counselor.

About 70 percent of that funding came from area school districts that referred students and contributed $7,200 for the educational portion of each student’s enrollment, according to Christopher. But funding for the program has been slashed by school districts such as Middleton, Oregon, Verona and Waunakee, which has left Madison as the only school district contributing anything toward incoming students’ tuition, he said.

More than half of Horizon’s operating costs will now depend on donations and grants.

Since it sent out donation letters in late April, Horizon has received contributions from the American Family Foundation, the Madison South Rotary Club and an individual supporter of the school.

“It will definitely help,” Christopher said. “But we have a long way to go.”

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