The statewide teachers union said 16 Minnesota school districts likely missed a midnight deadline for settling teacher contracts without penalty. Education Minnesota should have the final number later on Wednesday.
State law penalizes districts $25 per student if teacher contracts aren't resolved by the end of the day on January 15th.
Education Minnesota president Tom Dooher said the deadline pushes negotiators to finish their work on time. But during a news conference Tuesday, Dooher explained that rising health insurance costs and low state funding levels have made bargaining difficult this year.
"One hundred forty seven locals and school districts requested outside assistance from a mediator this year, versus 111 last time. Mediation has been used more widely this year because finances are so tight, and that the districts and unions believe that a third party is sometime the only way that sides can keep talking," said Dooher.
Dooher said none of the 16 districts appears to be heading toward a strike.
Here's a list of the distrists still without contracts:
Red Lake Falls
St. Louis County
Education Minnesota said Albert Lea missed the deadline, but since the local and district had already filed for arbitration, they will not incur the $25 per pupil penalty in state aid.
In some years, the Legislature has lifted the deadline. Here's a look at the number of late districts and the total penalties they incurred.
YEAR DISTRICTS PENALTIES
2006 11 $345,101
2000 5 $109,482
1996 16 $679,328
1994 17 $832,989
1992 11 $238,241
1990 5 $366,127
---- The Associated Press contributed to this story.