With just a few weeks left until a Jan. 27 deadline for his budget proposal, Gov. Mark Dayton said Tuesday he wants to increase the state funding formula per pupil, boost the number of guidance counselors and expand access to early childhood education.
In an interview with the Star Tribune, Dayton said he hasn't yet determined how much money he will request from the Legislature to fund his priorities for state education.
Dayton said he wants to build on accomplishments from his first-term, which included rolling out all-day kindergarten across the state, a two-year tuition freeze at Minnesota colleges and universities and paying back schools in full after borrowing $2.8 billion to balance the state's budget in 2011.
"I think we turned around the funding, we turned around the decline in public support for public education as well as the overloading of schools of students without the resources to address their needs," Dayton said Tuesday. "Now we need to... go from providing good educations to great and excellent educations for more and more of our students."
One way of accomplishing that would be by raising the basic state funding formula for students, he said. That formula currently sets a minimum of $5,224 per pupil for 2012-13, but the funding varies across school districts.
Dayton said another education priority would be to align schools' curriculums to better prepare students for jobs in fast-growing industries including technology, engineering and healthcare. Additional guidance counselors would help students navigate career and academic planning for careers in these fields, Dayton said.
The DFL governor, who handily won re-election in November, said he wants would like the Legislature to raise the number of school days required by law. Currently, Minnesota's school-day requirement is among the lowest in the country, Dayton said.
That position likely means that a handful of rural school districts operating on four-day school schedules will revert to the traditional five-day schedule.