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Utah Schools Receive $88.8 Million This Year, $92.84 Million Next Year

Utah State Treasurer David Damschen today announced that the Permanent State School Fund will make the largest-ever distribution to Utah schools next year. Schools are slated to receive a record $92.84 million from the Permanent State School Fund in July 2021 – a 4.5% increase from this year’s distribution of $88.83 million and a 12.3% increase from last year’s distribution of $82.66 million.

Under the School LAND Trust Program, investment earnings from the Permanent State School Fund are distributed to every school in the state based on a per-pupil formula. Each school’s community council, comprised of parents, teachers and the principal, annually determines the greatest academic needs of their students and prepares plans to improve student academic performance with their portion of distributions from the fund.

“I applaud the outstanding work of the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) in administering trust lands and the solid investment decisions of the School and Institutional Trust Funds Office (SITFO), which maximize the impact of the Permanent State School Fund. Their efforts, along with the work of the Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Office, benefit Utah’s education programs now and for years to come,” Treasurer Damschen said. “Every dollar we earn through prudent administration of the land and investment assets is a dollar in school funding not paid by the Utah taxpayer.”

School community councils and charter trust land councils prepared plans for the July 2020 disbursement in the spring and are implementing them as this school year begins.

“The funding for the School LAND Trust Program is a reliable source of funding with flexibility for councils to address the unique needs of their students. During this challenging pandemic, some schools are addressing the needs of remote learning. Principals are grateful for the funds and the increase from year to year,” Utah State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson said. “The first year of the program, the average per-pupil amount was $10. The distribution has increased to an average of $133 per student. The funds allow for meaningful decision making at the most local level.” The School LAND Trust Program has distributed a total of $704.4 million to Utah schools since its inception in 1999.

“At SITLA, we strive to administer trust lands as effectively as possible for Utah’s schoolchildren, generating revenue from energy, real estate and surface development on the 3.3 million acres of school trust lands,” SITLA Director David Ure said. “The best part of my job is visiting schools and seeing the positive ways schools use their distributions to create better educational experiences for students.”

Legislation enacted in 2014 created SITFO as an independent state agency tasked with the investment of these funds. SITFO is overseen by a five-member Board of Trustees comprised of investment professionals and chaired by the state treasurer.

“The SITFO team is proud to be a part of the larger effort to generate wealth for Utah’s schools,” SITFO Director and Chief Investment Officer Peter Madsen said. “It is rewarding to see our diversification efforts take shape and even more rewarding to help make an impact in Utah classrooms.”

Four agencies build, invest, administer and protect the Utah School LAND Trust Program:

• SITLA, the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, manages Utah’s 3.3 million acres of school trust lands, depositing revenue into the Permanent State School Fund;
• SITFO, the School and Institutional Trust Funds Office, invests the $2.5 billion Permanent State School Fund;
• The School Children’s Trust section at the Utah State Board of Education administers the School LAND Trust Program. This office trains and supports School Community Councils as they prepare academic plans to be reviewed and approved by local school boards; and
• The Lands Trust Protection and Advocacy Office was created by the Utah Legislature in 2018 to represent the beneficiary interests of Utah schools.