Drug recovery high school, deputy pay increase among Knox County mayor’s proposed budget

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs says he will not defund the Knox County Sheriff’s department as many call on police reform across the nation.
Published: May. 4, 2021 at 8:26 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - If there was ever a question of what Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs’ priorities are, the answers lie in his $853 million proposed budget for 2021-22. The budget tackles education, public safety, and infrastructure- among other plans.

During his Tuesday address at the City-County Building in downtown Knoxville, Jacobs said he will not defund the Knox County Sheriff’s department as many call on police reform across the nation. Instead, he wants to give the department more money.

According to his proposed budget, $96 million would go toward public safety. He hopes to give sheriff’s deputies a five percent pay increase, better body/surveillance cameras and more than a dozen vehicles.

Sheriff Tom Spangler was pleased with the consideration.

“They’re (deputies) taking things either thrown at them, rammed at them, bullets being fired at them. Those people are doing this 24 hours a day. And, for that to be said, what more can you say but accolades to those men and women out there doing that,” Sheriff Spangler said.

Jacobs also revealed how he wants to support the school system.

The proposed budget unveils a plan to give a pay increase to certified teachers, continue road and recreation projects while supporting a drug recovery high school for teens.

Knox County Schools is calling it the “Elevate Program,” which is designed to support students recovering from drug abuse. Experts have said 80 to 90 percent of students returning to a traditional classroom after drug use can relapse.

The Elevate Program would give students a place to get and stay clean.

The Boyd Foundation is donating more than $150,000 for start up cost for the school. Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs is placing it in his proposed county budget, covering staffing costs for the program’s first three years.

“Substance misuse is still a huge issue in our community and it isn’t just adults,” Mayor Jacobs said. “It isn’t just men who suffer from substance abuse, so we have to take a much wholistic approach and I think a much more comprehensive plan when dealing with that issue.”

The program is expected to start in the fall with a class of nearly 10 students.

The Helen Ross McNabb Center is agreeing to provide classroom space and intensive outpatient therapy.

The Knox County Commission will have to vote on the budget by July.

Watch the mayor’s full address here.

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