PATERSON, N.J. - It took the Paterson Board of Education almost four years to come to a contract agreement with the city's Education Association. On Wednesday, the contract moved one step closer to a reality. 

Less than a week after the contract was sent to the state's Department of Education, Acting Commissioner David Hespe has approved the agreement, according to a state spokesman.

The agreed settlement covers the non-contracted years from 2010-11 through 2013-14. It also includes a new three-year contract beginning with the upcoming 2014-15 school year and ending in 2016-17.

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The final step before the contract becomes official sits on the desk of the district's superintendent, Dr. Donnie Evans.

It is expected that Dr. Evans will sign the contract, based on a joint statement released by the Paterson Education Association and Paterson Board of Education on Friday announcing the initial agreement.