Gov. Mark Dayton said Tuesday that when the Legislature convenes next week, he plans to press for an increase in classroom funding, a boost in the number of school guidance counselors and expanded access to early childhood education for low-income families.

In an interview with the Star Tribune, Dayton said he also wants to make sure Minnesota schools are teaching the skills required in fast-growing sectors of the economy, such as technology, engineering and health care.

Dayton's education agenda would build on accomplishments from his first term, including signing into law all-day kindergarten and implementing a two-year tuition freeze at state colleges and universities. Dayton, who begins his second and final term Monday, said he is eager to cement his legacy on Minnesota education.

Republicans, who will formally retake the majority in the House when the legislative session begins next Tuesday, said that by and large there appears to be room for bipartisan agreement on many of his priorities ­— but not all.

"We all know that educating our children is one of the most important things we have to do," said Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, and chair of the education finance committee. "I think we're going to find areas of common ground with the governor."

Minnesota school districts have seen their finances improve recently, particularly after the state repaid $2.8 billion it borrowed to balance its budget in 2011. Though the state holds many accolades nationally in student academics, Dayton said it still has weaknesses, including a large achievement gap between minority and white students and a high ratio of students to counselors, 792 for every one counselor.

"We turned around the decline in public support for public education as well as the overloading of schools with students without the resources to address their needs," Dayton said. "Now we need to … go from providing good educations to great and excellent educations for more and more of our students."

The governor's priorities come just a few weeks from a late January deadline to unveil his state budget proposal to lawmakers, and he hasn't determined how much he plans to seek for his education goals.

Dayton's emerging priorities also include transportation, for which he will ask for new forms of revenue, he said Tuesday. Investments in the state's infrastructure and education will pay the state dividends for decades to come, he said.

"I see better education systems as an economic development strategy," he said. "The ultimate goal is, more jobs, better jobs, and better, more productive successful citizens.

While they see broad room for agreement with the DFL governor, Republicans are also likely to introduce legislation eliminating teachers' seniority protections during layoffs, often referred to "last in, first out." Minnesota Action Network, a political action committee formed by former Sen. Norm Coleman, has begun running ads advocating an end to the teacher-tenure law. In 2012, Dayton vetoed a bill that would have ended that protection and on Tuesday he strongly criticized Coleman's latest effort.

State Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, said she supports the governor's overall aim to make education a priority, but said the "last in, first out" policy harms students.

"It's critical we keep the best teachers in front of students," Nelson said. "School districts should have flexibility in determining which teachers get laid off. It ought not be tied to which teachers have been there the longest."

Dayton didn't specify how much he wants to raise the state's basic funding formula for students. Funding has grown from $4,783 per pupil in 2005 to $5,831 per pupil for 2014-15. Inflation, however, has largely muted the impact of increases over that period. Funding also varies across school districts based on the makeup of student populations, and approval of referendums by voters to boost local funding formulas.

In addition to more state aid, Dayton wants schools' curricula to better prepare students for jobs in fast-growing industries including technology, engineering and health care. Additional guidance counselors would help students navigate career and academic planning for work in these fields, Dayton said.

The DFL governor, who handily won re-election in November, said he wants the Legislature to also increase the number of school days required by law. Currently, Minnesota's school-day requirement is among the lowest in the country, he said.

The state's teacher union president, Denise Specht, supported the proposals outlined by Dayton.

"I really applaud the governor's proposals," Specht, president of Education Minnesota, said. "He's been called the education governor, and with his second-term priorities … he's certainly earned that title."

Ricardo Lopez • 651-925-5042