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School programs at risk if bill to defund Education Dept. passes

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. -- Colleges across the state could be at risk of losing thousands of dollars in grants if a U.S. House bill passes.

Georgia College Director of Grants Robin Lewis said the legislation to get ride of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Education will hurt.

Fifteen-year-old Kiamber Daniels has been a part of the Georgia College High Achievers after-school program since the age of nine.

"This program inspires me and encourages me to do so much," Daniels said.

She and many other high-schoolers and even some Georgia College students spend their afternoons here learning career readiness and preparing for college.

"We'll get some of our friends and then we'll get some other friends come because they see how much we enjoy it and they want to be a part of it too," Daniels said.

According to Lewis, programs like these may be at risk if a bill submitted to the House in February to defund the Department of Education passes.

"We're concerned whether or not the bill will affect that potential funding," Lewis said.

If passed, some after-school programs will be cut altogether. Others, like the Georgia College High Achievers, will lose their ability to grow.

"Right now this program primarily works with 9th through 12th graders but what we're finding is that the need for this type of program extends far beyond ninth grade," Lewis said. "We should be working with students as early as 4th."

Sequena Moon, Program Manager for High Achievers, is working on a grant to replicate and expand the program.

She wants to offer it to younger students as well, starting in the seventh grade.

She said that will be impossible if funding is cut.

"If you're not able to replicate programs like these in Baldwin County, it pretty much leaves a gap with the students who are trying and pursuing secondary education who don't have the family means or the family education or the knowledge to be able to continue with those types of endeavors on their own," Moon said.

Lewis said Georgia currently receives $99 million in discretionary grants to universities and technical colleges. She said if the bill is passed the plan is to defund the Education Department by 2018. Supporters of the bill feel local and state school boards should make decisions for students, not the federal government.

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