There's still no announcement of a teacher contract settlement in Minneapolis, which puts the district and Minneapolis Federation of Teachers behind the curve in two respects.

First, it's alone among the big three districts in the metro area without a new contract.  St. Paul's school board and teachers both have ratified a tentative agreement announced on Jan. 31. The Anoka-Hennepin district settled in October, when Minneapolis talks had barely begun.

Second, more than half of the state's districts now have contract settlements, according to Education Minnesota.  As of Feb. 10, it had contract settlement reports from 53 percent of its locals. They averaged a .92 percent pay increase in the first contract year and 1 percent in the second, according to spokesman Chris Williams. That's exclusive of raises for experience or education.

The Minneapolis district and union negotiators have met during four of the past five days.  The union office said Tuesday morning that no agreement had been reached.  The school board has scheduled a closed meeting for Thursday afternoon to discuss the talks

In December, lead district negotiator Steve Liss said that the district didn't want an unsettled contract hanging over the district beyond Jan. 15.  That's the now-repealed date by which the state required a district to settle a contract or face a financial penalty.  Johnson on Feb. 8 prodded negotiators "to move forward with a sense of urgency." 

Major issues pending when the talks closed last week to outside observers were the district's push for contract changes that it said would help to boost student performance at the schools where achievement lags, and a push by teachers to strip away some district initiatives they regard as outmoded and other changes to better focus teacher work on improving instruction.