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      State hurries to spend federal money for special ed

      South Carolina education officials are rushing to spend $75 million in federal funding on special education programs, to avoid losing money.

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina education officials are rushing to send $75 million to schools for special education programs to avoid losing federal money.

      The State newspaper reported Thursday that Education Superintendent Mick Zais is sending the money to school districts by June 30 to avoid losing that amount in federal funding.

      The U.S. Education Department says South Carolina has not spent enough on special education in the past three years due to budget cuts. The federal agency had threatened to withhold $111 million from the state as punishment.

      But the federal agency says it will forgive the shortfall for this school year if Zais acts quickly. That leaves a $36 million punishment.

      The money being distributed comes from better-than-expected collections in state sales tax and lower-than-expected prices for bus fuel.

      (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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