WARNER ROBINS, Georgia (41NBC?WMGT) - A government funded program that has a huge impact on students across Middle Georgia is on the chopping block. STARBASE is funded by the Department of Defense, but a proposed amendment could shut it down.
"To lose STARBASE would be an absolute disaster," Pat Bartness, president and CEO of the Museum of Aviation Foundation, said.
It will be a disaster that STARBASE Robins and Museum of Aviation leaders say would severely impact Middle Georgia.
"We have to keep it going. Its important not only for the students and their lives and what they do with themselves, but also to our nation because we want to grow students that take jobs here in our country in these STEM related fields," Melissa Spalding, the director of education for the Museum of Aviation Foundation, said.
Lawmakers in Washington have a different idea. As 2013 fiscal budget talks continue, Senator John McCain proposed an amendment that would prohibit the DoD from spending any 2013 money on the STARBASE program. If that happens, the department would have to immediately shut down every STARBASE site across the country.
"We think that STARBASE has a big impact nationally to help kids get interested in STEM," Wesley Fondal, the director of STARBASE Robins, said.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. Since 1997, STARBASE Robins has helped more than 15,000 at risk and low-income students from Houston, Bibb, Twiggs, and Bleckley county schools explore and develop skills in these areas.
"Having STARBASE to supplement that with hands on activity allows the kids to get interested and excited in STEM and hopefully will study STEM subjects in school," Fondal said.
These leaders say this program does too much good for lawmakers to knock it out of orbit.
"It's taken kids and turned them from [kids] with no hope, no energy, no enthusiasm about their future to knowing what they're going to do and being excited about it.
41NBC reached out to Georgia U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isackson for comment, but they were not available. No word on when this proposed change will be voted on.
Click here for more information about STARBASE Robins.