BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ New York high school students in several poor districts will have better access to advanced placement courses under a program featuring virtual classrooms.

The state Education Department this week said $17.3 million in federal Race to the Top Funds will be distributed to 17 districts or consortia of districts under the state’s Virtual Advanced Placement Program.

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Education Commissioner John King says low-income students don’t always get the chance to take AP courses, which give students a leg up in their college applications. The 18-month grants will fund the development of online and blended courses that combine online and traditional classroom instruction.

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Among districts receiving funding are New York City, Buffalo, Yonkers, Rochester, Niagara Falls, Huntington and South Huntington.

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