Finalists for federal education grants to be announced Tuesday

The U.S. Department of Education is expected to announce finalists in the second round of its Race to the Top grant program Tuesday afternoon.

Kentucky, which was a finalist in the first round in March but failed to win any money, hopes to receive up to $175 million this time. Education officials say, however, that the state's lack of charter schools could be a stumbling block.

Race to the Top, which is part of the Obama administration's economic stimulus effort, encourages states to compete for grants based on innovative efforts to improve education.

The government selected only two winners in the first round: Tennessee and Delaware, which shared more than $600 million.

At the time, Kentucky education officials said the state's lack of charter-school enabling legislation was perhaps the main reason the state didn't earn enough points to win money. An attempt to strengthen Kentucky's chances in the second round by introducing a charter schools bill in the final days of the 2010 General Assembly fell short.

The state Department of Education has taken several other steps since then to shore up Kentucky's second-round application.

However, state Education Commissioner Terry Holliday has said that even with those improvements, Kentucky is on the bubble and might not win any money in the second round.

Kentucky would use any Race money it receives to help implement education reforms approved by the General Assembly in 2009.