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Obama budget would eliminate Starbase

FORT WAYNE – As expected, President Obama’s federal budget proposal for fiscal year 2014 would eliminate the Starbase educational program from the Department of Defense.

The director of Starbase Indiana at Fort Wayne’s Air National Guard base said Wednesday that he and others will be appealing the decision to Congress, which has until Sept. 30 to approve a budget.

“We saw this one coming,” Scott Liebhauser said. “Through different avenues, we’re getting the word out to our elected officials on how critical it is for them to add the funding back in at the congressional level and to continue to maintain our program nationwide.”

Starbase Indiana is among 76 such academies operated by the Pentagon to teach fifth-grade students about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The local site opened in February 2012 and has enrolled more than 900 students, most of whom attend the lab one day a week for five weeks.

“The program has been successful for over 23 years nationwide as part of the Department of Defense. Changing it from that just doesn’t make sense,” Liebhauser said.

Nearly a month ago, Liebhauser said the White House planned to shift Starbase from the Department of Defense to the Department of Education. At the time, the White House declined to comment.

In its proposed budget released Wednesday, the White House said Starbase “is being consolidated and transferred outside the DOD” to support the administration’s STEM initiative.

The budget calls for consolidating 90 STEM programs operated by 11 federal agencies at an annual cost of nearly $180 million. Those programs would be administered by the Department of Education, the National Science Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution in four areas: K-12 instruction, undergraduate education, graduate fellowships and activities outside the classroom.

For more on this story, see tomorrow’s print edition of The Journal Gazette or return to www.journalgazette.net after 3 a.m. Thursday.

bfrancisco@jg.net

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