LONG BRANCH: A program that is the first of its kind is coming to the city library in the coming months.
Long Branch Free Public Library Director Tonya Badillo said the library just received an Innovations Online High School Grant. The city library, along with five others in the state including Newark and Trenton, where chosen as pilots for the program.
The library will offer online high school diplomas to 15 residents, ages 19 and over.
“It’s a fully accredited high school diploma not a GED program,” Badillo said at the Aug. 26 Long Branch Council meeting.
Badillo said the library will work with the New Jersey Department of Labor, local halfway houses and residential treatment centers to find candidates for program. Library staff will be doing a 6-week training session to launch the program.
Badillo thanked library staff Janet Burkhead, Lisa Kelly and Kate Angelo for helping come up with a “unique angle” to help apply for grant.
“We really wanted it for Long Branch, so we worked hard on it,” she said.
Badillo said said library attendance has increased in recent years. Last year the library had 170,000 visits, an increase of 27,000 from the previous year.
She said despite a loss in funding, the library is still having success and is able to keep its expenses in order.
“This year we lost $56,000 in funding,” she said. “While we are still working with a deficit, I’m extremely proud to say with increasing costs we were able to trim our budget by $15,000. We absorbed a full-time position, therefore we are absolutely doing more with less.”
She said the library’s average cost to taxpayers is $31 per year, but that a daily user of the library has a monthly value of $2,700 with a yearly value of $24,869.