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Funding for Starbase

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BOSSIER CITY, La -

Last year, Starbase at Barksdale Air Force Base came dangerously close to closing its doors.

The educational program for at-risk youth landed on the budget chopping block because of the sequestration.

However, it got saved at the last minute.

Now, many wonder if Starbase could be in jeopardy again.

This is a big concern for a lot of parents because it's a very interactive learning approach.

"It is better than normal school," said Darmarveon Porter, fifth grade student at Keithville Elementary Middle School.

"We made a 3 dimensional object and we've messed with robots," said Bailey Brown, fifth grade student at Keithville Elementary Middle School.

Students in grade five get to visit Starbase five times to learn all about science, technology, engineering and math.

This is also known as STEM.

"It's amazing!" said Bailey. "I'm learning but then I'm having fun at the same time."

"Everything is so hands-on for these kids," said Monica Bolton, Teacher at Keithville Elementary Middle School. "It comes to life for them. I think they have access to things that we could not give them in the public school system."

Bolton says it truly is a unique program.

"The technology is through NASA," she said, "the children just light up with that. They leave with so much knowledge in one day that they've gained it just cannot be reached in one full day at school."

Even parents get excited about their kids' projects.

"When they come to Starbase graduation, the parents are amazed when they see the video of what their kids have learned," said Bolton.

However, Starbase could face financial trouble.

The learning center almost lost funding last year because of the widespread government budget cuts.

"Last year, we were taken out of the Department of Defense budget," said Kathy Brandon, Executive Director of Starbase Louisiana. "The Obama administration decided that due to the federal cuts they needed to cut some programs and ours was one of those that they decided to eliminate from the budget. We were advocated for, by our senators and congressmen and there were many citizens that spoke out in favor of continuing funding the program and so we were sustained and were put back into the budget for FY '14."

However, they are not in the clear just yet.

"We still don't know yet whether or not we'll have funds to operate in the fiscal year ‘15," said Brandon.

Ms. Bolton says Starbase is invaluable to the kids and we should do everything we can to protect it.

"When we heard that it may not be funded we were just disheartened," said Bolton.

As we play the waiting game to see what, if any, funding is available Kathy Brandon says there's something you can do to help.

She says if you'd like to see the program continue contact your congressmen and let them know.

Starbase has been around for about 15 years and they have had more than 17,000 local kids graduate from the program.

It really encourages kids to consider jobs in science and technology, which are ever growing industries.

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