The Minneapolis School District underestimated the cost of the new teacher contract by $3.7 million due to a "significant" clerical error.

The contract will cost the district $14.7 million, not $11 million as initially estimated, Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson told school board members Tuesday.

While preparing a cost estimate for the contract, staffers from the human resources and labor relations department omitted a crucial number from the district's cost calculations.

Finance department staff members discovered the error Friday, a week after Johnson and union President Lynn Nordgren announced the original cost estimate.

No job or program cuts are imminent because the district's budget for the contract negotiations provided a cushion, district spokesman Stan Alleyne said.

"Everybody felt like they were rushing to get this done," Alleyne said. "This was a significant error, but we were prepared" for the financial impact, he added.

Despite the multimillion- dollar blunder, school board members unanimously approved the contract, which covers the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years.

With the $800,000 fine levied last January for not meeting the state's contract deadline, the deal now has a total price tag of $15.5 million.

The Star Tribune could not reach Nordgren for comment.

"We are both very pleased ... and are greatly anticipating the next contract negotiations," Johnson said.

The board's approval ended a 18-month stalemate between the district and union. The deal expires this summer, so contract talks will begin anew this spring. Both sides will begin those negotiations armed with experience and perhaps a common purpose.

At the request of U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Johnson, Nordgren and school board President Jill Davis plan to travel to Denver in mid-February for a conference on how labor and management can work together to benefit students.

"I think Minneapolis Public Schools is impressive in many ways," Davis said at the close of Tuesday's meeting.

Corey Mitchell • 612-673-4491