Library NExT program offers middle and high school students free - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Library NExT program offers middle and high school students free classes

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The city of San Diego and UC San Diego Extension Tuesday announced an expansion of free classes for middle and high school students at public libraries.

The Library NExT program focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts and math courses, college preparation and specialized areas like computer programming and data analytics. It started as a pilot program earlier this year at the Central Library, Valencia Park/Malcolm X Library, and branches in Mira Mesa, Serra Mesa and Tierrasanta.

"Every child in San Diego deserves a chance to go to college and get a good-paying job but sometimes the price tag puts courses that would give their college applications a boost -- like a robotics class or test prep -- out of reach," Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. "This program gives students across our city the opportunity to learn valuable skills that can propel them into rewarding careers."

Library NExT will expand by the end of this year to libraries in City Heights, Linda Vista, Logan Heights, Rancho Penasquitos and Skyline Hills. Plans are being laid to eventually make the program citywide.

"With the pace of innovation accelerating, we need to equip students with the knowledge and specialized skills that our employers demand," said Mary Walshok, associate vice chancellor of public programs at UC San Diego and the dean of extension. "Education and workforce training like this program are critical to creating an inclusive economy."

City Library Director Misty Jones said the STEAM classes have received "an overwhelming response."

Officials said it helps improve access to advanced STEAM courses, college preparation training and workforce development that's lacking in many schools.

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