School groups to bypass Zais, apply for 'Race to the Top' funds

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH, AP) -- Advocates for South Carolina schools plan to go after up to $50 million in federal grant money even though the state schools chief refuses to pursue the cash.

The South Carolina Association of School Administrators and the School Boards Association plan to ask Republican Superintendent Mick Zais to change his mind. But the groups said Friday if he doesn't decide to pursue so-called Race to the Top grants, the groups will try to apply for the money themselves.

Zais shut the door to applying for the grants earlier this week, saying they expand the federal government's role in education and won't help schools.

His office said Friday he campaigned against the grants as a candidate and hasn't changed positions.

Zais made his declaration as the Obama administration announced it is offering South Carolina and eight other states a shot at grants of up to $50 million. South Carolina was offered the chance to apply because it narrowly missed out during earlier rounds of grants.

Several other states have declined to apply for the grants.

It was not immediately clear if the groups could go after the money without state government support.

Read a press release issued by the education groups by clicking here.

Do you agree with Zais or does South Carolina need the federal funding? Leave a comment below to weigh in with your thoughts.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)