SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Since the pandemic, our San Diego libraries have slowly been trying to get to 100% operating capacity. Back in January, City Council shared its proposed budget, asking for additional resources for programming, staffing structures, and increased funds for library materials and the library's match program.
But the Library Foundation of San Diego says that is not enough. The City Council is asking for even more funding for a program that helps thousands of kids across San Diego.
“I don’t have the resources to find tutors elsewhere, so I depend on this," shares Maria Solorzano.
The mother of three has used the library her whole life. When the Logan Heights resident was met with her son needing additional help with schoolwork, the library is the first place she went to look for resources.
“When I was seeing too many zeros we came and got help from the tutors," shares Solorzano. "And those zeros started turning into points.”
The tutoring is through the 'Do your homework @ the Library' program. It has been around for nine years and is currently at 11 branches. With over 192,000 tutoring sessions already completed, those championing the program believe that it is vital for thousands of students.
“This is one of those programs that directly relates to a child’s ability to increase their academic success," shares CEO of the Library Foundation SD, Patrick Stewart.
With school finishing this week, the Library Foundation fears it won't be able to operate the summer sessions that will serve roughly 3,700 students.
It is why the Library Foundation is asking for more than $670,000 to help keep tutors. Those tutors are currently paid hourly, and have the highest turnover rate of any library employee, at 40%, according to Stewart.
“What this would do is convert that staffing," shares Stewart. "To allow this program benefited full or part-time positions and to scale out at the very least to 18 library branches immediately.”
But the hope in making this happen largely lies with the City Council. In January it voiced various pleas to get different dollar amounts on the table, but final revisions are underway.
“We are pushing Mayor Gloria really hard, to see that we get that into the final budget, I feel like we are going to get close," shares Councilmember Raul Campillo. "Whether it’s the full 670 thousand or a part of that, we are really just trying to make sure that our children are taken care of and they have a safe place to go after school.”
The ultimate decision lies with the Mayor when he approves the budget for the 2023 fiscal year at the end of the month.
And the library is slowly getting back to operating at pre-pandemic capacity. Last week, they opened the last 4 branches that were closed. The Clairemont, Mountain View, Ocean Beach Library, and IDEA lab are now open with limited hours.
The other 32 branches are open. Stewart furthers that the libraries have also hired 140 new employees.