Treasurer David Damschen Announces Record Earnings from Utah’s Permanent State School Fund

Utah State Treasurer David Damschen announced the annual earnings from the Permanent State School Fund, which increased by 7.7 percent to a record $49.3 million – a $3.5 million increase over the previous year’s earnings.

The Permanent State School Fund is the state’s largest land grant trust fund, with a balance of $2.08 billion. The Fund’s interest and dividends are distributed directly to schools statewide each year under the School LAND (Learning and Nurturing Development) Trust Program. These funds support academic programs chosen by local School Community Councils, which are composed of parents, teachers and the principal from each school, and are approved by each respective school’s local school board.

“Every dollar we earn through prudent investment of State School Fund is a dollar in school funding not paid by the Utah taxpayer, and this year we’re excited to announce record earnings,” said Utah State Treasurer David Damschen.  “These funds support academic programs chosen at the local level, and are increasingly becoming more important in how we invest in the education of Utah’s children.”  

The Utah Enabling Act and Utah Constitution require the establishment of a permanent school fund. All net proceeds of trust lands are deposited into the Fund. The interest and dividends are distributed directly to Utah public schools. Capital gains on the investments are reinvested in the Fund to ensure ongoing viability of the program. The Permanent State School Fund has grown from $18 million in 1983 to over $2 billion in 2015 because of enthusiastic involvement from the education community, wide support from Utah’s legislature, increasing revenues coming from the land and prudent investment of the Fund’s assets.  In 2015, schools received $45.8 million for the School LAND Trust Program.

“We are dedicated to maintaining the Fund’s long-term viability for the schoolchildren of today and the future and are pleased to see its sustained and increased growth,” said David Crandall, Chair of the Utah State Board of Education.

“In spite of the market turmoil over the last year, the portfolio has been stable and the distribution has grown modestly,” added Peter Madsen, Chief Investment Officer of the State School and Institutional Trust Fund Office.  “As we continue to diversify, we are optimistic about the continued growth of the Fund and the prospects for increased distributions long term.”