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16 school districts likely missed contract deadline

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Edison High School
Edison High School in Minneapolis.
MPR file photo/Laura McCallum

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:

ACGC  

Albert Lea

Carlton

Clinton Graceville

East Central  

Fairbault

Hendricks

Houston

Hutchinson  

Ivanhoe

McGregor

Menahga

Red Lake Falls

St. Cloud

St. Louis County

Waconia

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.