The U.S. Department of Education has awarded $7.19 million to South Carolina to help improve the state's lowest-performing schools.

The funds are part of the federal Education Department's School Improvement Grants program. States use the funds to provide sub-grants to individual school districts to target low-achieving schools. Funds can go toward things such as classroom equipment, professional development or additional staffing.

Dino Teppara, public affairs director for the S.C. Department of Education, said the state has not yet decided whether it will accept the funds or which individual schools might be eligible to receive them. If the state chooses to accept the grant funding, Teppara said the money would apply to next school year.

Several Charleston County schools have previously received school improvement grants in recent years, including St. John's High, Stall High, Burke High and Greg Mathis Charter High School. A $2.3 million, three-year grant split between North Charleston High and Morningside Middle, ran out in September.