State will enter second round of 'Race to the Top'

Columbia, SC - COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex says he's prepared to enter the state in the second round of the "Race to the Top" competition for federal education grants.

The state was knocked out of the first round of the competition by Delaware and Tennessee, who received $100 million and $500 million respectively.

South Carolina was among the list of 16 finalists whittled down from 41 applicants. The state's final scores ranked sixth among those finalists.

Officials said Georgia and Florida were third and fourth in the rankings for the grants, which means they have an advantage over other states for the second round of grants.

In its second bid for grants, the state can only apply for $175 million.

"Our ambitions will have to be compatible with the amount of funding we're eligible to receive. That means that we'll have to determine what sorts of changes are needed," said Rex in a statement. "We're going to spend a lot of time in the coming weeks in talks with teachers, administrators, legislators, business leaders and the governor's office."

The grant funds would also do little to blunt the impact of budget cuts directed toward education in the state.

The state's initial application included creating a pay-for-performance system that would evaluate teachers statewide based on how much their students progressed over the school year.

The state has until June 1 to apply for round two with the winners expected to be announced by September.

The "Race to the Top" money is part of President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plans, which provided $100 billion for schools.

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