CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declined to reveal details about his legislative agenda Thursday, but he made clear that education reform would be at the top of his list of proposals.
Tomblin hinted that he would likely propose legislation to expand the school calendar, give county school boards more autonomy and bolster reading instruction in elementary schools.
"As we go into this coming session, I think probably most of our time, a great deal of our time, will be spent on education," Tomblin said during Thursday's Associated Press annual "Legislative Lookahead" event in South Charleston.
The state school board already has endorsed a host of education reforms - initially outlined in a comprehensive education efficiency audit released last year. The audit suggested that school systems offer a year-round or "balanced" school calendar, as an alternative to the traditional August to June school year.
Tomblin said his bills would address "flexibility in calendars and flexibility at the local level.
"If you're not able to read by the third grade you really start getting behind," Tomblin said. "Our focus will be, as students graduate from high school, they either have skills ready for the work force or skills to go into higher education. We realize everyone is not cut out to go into higher education."
Tomblin said he was putting the "final touches" on a number of bills he plans to introduce. The 60-day legislative session starts Wednesday.
"It may take a few extra days to finalize an education bill, but I'm confident we will have all our bills ready to go within the first 10 days of the session."