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#SITLAFunds16 Instagram Challenge Underway, $45.8M in Funds Distributed This School Year

The School Children’s Trust Office at the Utah Office of Education and SITLA launched their Instagram Photo Challenge today with two $1000 School LAND Trust Fund bonuses available to the winning schools.

K-12 students, parents, teachers, administrators, and School Community Council members are invited to snap a photo showing how School LAND Trust Funds are used in their schools and upload it to Instagram with the hashtag #SITLAFunds16. Find full rules and details at trustlands.utah.gov/sitlafunds16

Last year, 22 school districts from Cache to Kane and several charter schools participated in the challenge with Valley View Elementary School in Davis School District and Salem Junior High School in Nebo School District earning top honors.

Valley View Elementary showed how School LAND Trust Funds support art programs, teaching students about great artists, and their history and techniques. Salem Junior High School used social media to gather more than 1,200 likes for their Instagram photo, earning $1000 for their efforts. Their school uses its School LAND Trust Funds to purchase technology for every student and help hire qualified teachers.

Elementary, middle, and high schools throughout the state received $45.8 million in School LAND Trust Funds this school year, up 17 percent over last year. The $45.8 million is interest and dividends from the $2 billion-plus Permanent School Fund.

“This program provides a fast-growing source of funds for Utah’s schools, which costs taxpayers nothing,” said Tim Donaldson, School Children’s Trust Director for the Utah State Board of Education. “Distributions have doubled in the past five years.”

Individual schools use their School LAND Trust funds on projects determined by its School Community Council. This council, which includes parents, teachers, and the principal, identifies and discusses its school’s particular needs and administers the funds accordingly.

Annual distributions from the Permanent School Fund have grown tremendously, from just $8.3 million in fiscal year 2004 to $45.8 million this year. This growth is due to the support of state policymakers, investment returns generated by the newly-formed School and Institutional Trust Funds Office, and $1.1 billion by SITLA from development on Utah’s 3.3 million acres of school trust land.

In addition to generating $98.5 million for public schools last year, SITLA earned an additional $6.1 million for state hospitals, universities, and teaching colleges.