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.

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.

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

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