The state's teachers union says the lack of a contract deadline has left more than half of Minnesota school districts without a contract.
State law used to require contracts to be in place by Jan. 15 of even-numbered years or districts risked a fine.
That deadline was removed last year. Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher said the result is 184 districts without contracts this year, compared to just 18 districts that missed the deadline two years ago.
"Important work requires a deadline," Dooher said.
This year's deadline — had it remained in place — would have fallen at midnight on Jan. 17, to account for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Deadline opponents argue the penalties are unfairly levied against just one side in negotiations, the school district, which forces districts to make deals they otherwise might not.