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Fact Finding Commission chairman says it's been a busy year for impasses in teacher negotiations

So far this year, 9 North Dakota school districts have declared impasse in their contract negotiations with teachers.

Once that impasse is declared, the state's Fact Finding Commission is brought in to try and held the two sides reach an agreement.

"Nine would be higher than normal," said Commission chair Dean Rummel of Dickinson. He said although K-12 funding wasn't cut in the 2017 Legislative session, it wasn't increased, either.

"A lot of the school districts are struggling to find resources for increases in fixed costs, as well as the continuing teacher salaries," Rummel said.

Once an impasse is declared, the Commission has 40 days to hold a hearing and reach a recommendation

"Once the hearing is completed, the Commission will make recommendations in writing," Rummel said. "After they (school boards) receive the report, they have 20 days to complete negotiations."

That could mean accepting the report, scheduling further talks, or issuing contracts.

Meanwhile, the Grand Forks School District is one step closer to inking a new one year contact with teachers.  Teachers ratified the deal Monday, and the school board will discuss the proposed contract Wednesday night. 

The package calls for teachers to receive scheduled step increases in salary.  The  two sides also pledged to study issues surrounding maternity leave and prep time.

The Fact Finding Commission was brought in when the two sides declared an impasse in talks back in May.

(Doug Barrett of KNOX Radio in Grand Forks contributed to this story.)

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