After striking out twice last year, school leaders said Monday no decision has been made on whether to again seek federal “Race to the Top” dollars.

“Right now we are not sure,” said Rayne Martin, chief of innovation for the state Department of Education.

Whether Gov. Bobby Jindal wants to pursue another bid also is unclear.

At stake is $700 million in federal dollars, including $500 million to aid early childhood education.

States would be eligible for grants of up to $100 million.

In addition, nine states that were finalists in last year’s competition, including Louisiana, could apply for education innovation aid from a $200 million pot.

In August, state education leaders failed in their bid for the federal money, which was supposed to award states for offering education innovation.

The state had been in line for up to $175 million.

Louisiana finished 13th in the second round against 17 other states and the District of Columbia.

In the first round, the state finished 11th out of 16 finalists.

Nine states and the District of Columbia are supposed to share in $3.4 billion in federal aid.

The contest is the brainchild of the Obama administration.

Backers say the competition will help make the U.S. more competitive, and help close the gap on kindergarten readiness.

The latest plan, called the early-learning challenge, is supposed to challenge states to increase access to quality early learning programs for low-income and disadvantaged children.

Any state bid for early childhood education dollars requires a partnership with state health and human services officials, Martin said.

Martin said states are supposed to get proposed regulations for the contest by the end of the month, then will likely have 30 days or so to respond.

States that land the dollars will be expected to track children’s development and spell out effective practices to aid parents.

One of the key backers of Louisiana’s first two bids for “Race to the Top” dollars was former state Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek.

Pastorek left the job in May to take a private position.

The contest is overseen by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Federal dollars are expected to be awarded to states by the end of the year.