Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News)- It appears the Rochester Public School District (RPS) and the union representing its teachers have avoided a strike. 

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The union instructed its teachers to leave at the end of the contracted day on Wednesdays as a response to an apparent impasse in the contract talks last month. Superintendent Kent Pekel took the rare step of publicly disclosing the district’s offer to the teachers union. 

On Monday evening a post on the Rochester Education Association’s Facebook page announced the union’s negotiation team had reached a tentative agreement with the school district. 

The post says members will be emailed a schedule of all member meetings to discuss the potential contract. The terms of the tentative agreement have not been disclosed. 

Pekel issued a public statement last month detailing an offer that would increase the overall cost of the next two-year contract with the teacher's union by nearly 15.5%. 

Pekel. Rochester Public Schools
Pekel. Rochester Public Schools

He described the offer as "one of the largest increases in cost of any contract that has been approved or reported during the current round of negotiations between school districts and teacher's unions across the state."

Pekel also said since the beginning of the year RPS had shifted the cost of healthcare premium increases from all school district employees to the school district, benefiting the more than 72% of the REA members who opt to receive healthcare coverage through their employer.

Kim David TSM
Kim David TSM

The Superintendent said the health care cost shift required the School Board to approve spending $7 million from the district's budget reserves.

Pekel described it as an appropriate use of the reserve dollars, but argues that "it would be reckless to dig even deeper into our fund balance to achieve other objectives."

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Gallery Credit: Carly Ross

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