Funds go to schools for programs chosen by parents, teachers and principals at no cost to taxpayers
Utah Treasurer Marlo M. Oaks 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 $95.85 million from the Permanent State School Fund in July 2022 – a 3.2% increase from this year’s distribution of $92.84 million and a 7.9% increase from last year’s distribution of $88.83 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 professionals at the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), the School and Institutional Trust Funds Office (SITFO) and the Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Office,” Treasurer Oaks said. “Their prudent administration of trust lands coupled with solid investment results are increasing the impact of the Permanent State School Fund for the benefit of Utah’s school children now and for years to come.”
School community councils and charter trust land councils prepared plans for the July 2021 disbursement in the spring and are implementing them this school year.
“The funding for the School LAND Trust program is growing large enough to make an increasingly important contribution to student success according to the needs of each district and charter school in Utah. Over half of the annual distribution provides funding for people who educate our students. The funding hires aides who support teachers in classroom instruction, math and reading specialists, STEM instruction, online and in-person individualized instruction, credit recovery support towards graduation and home visits with families to support student learning as well as many other student needs,” Utah State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson said. “The second largest use of funds is for technology that has been so important during the pandemic and ongoing digital teaching and learning. The average per-pupil amount going to schools for local decision making this school year is $140, compared to $10 the first year of the program.”
The School LAND Trust Program has distributed a total of $797.3 million to Utah schools since its inception in 1999.
“We work hard at SITLA to manage the land we have and get every dollar out of it we can,” SITLA Director David Ure said. “We also spend a lot of time to make sure we consider possibilities for conservation, the impact on surrounding communities, protecting cultural resources and a dozen other things before we make a decision. SITLA provides a substantial revenue source for our school kids and everyone at SITLA is proud of that.”
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.
“SITFO is proud to be an important part of the system that protects and grows these sacred trusts, and we are committed to doing all we can to continue growing the enduring contributions to Utah’s education programs,” SITFO Director and Chief Investment Officer Peter Madsen said. “The trusts are increasingly diversified, and our expectations are for robust, long-term gains.”
Four agencies build, invest, administer and protect the Utah School LAND Trust Program:
SITLA, the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration manages Utah’s 3.4 million acres of school trust lands, depositing revenue into the Permanent State School Fund;
SITFO, the School and Institutional Trust Funds Office, invests the $3.1 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.