Utah public schools will be getting $29 million this year through a land trust fund program, state officials announced Tuesday.
The money, which is revenue generated by 3.4 million acres of Utah land, must be used for academic enhancement, such as study skills classes and textbooks. The distribution for the 2012-13 school year is the largest since the program was created in 2001.
The acreage is held by the state as trustee for public schools and managed by the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA). Net revenue which comes mostly from natural gas, coal, oil, real estate development, and other surface uses such as grazing is deposited in the State School Fund and invested by the state treasurer.
The School Children's Trust Section, part of the State Office of Education, distributes interest and dividends from the fund annually. The money is divvied up among nearly 1,000 public schools based primarily on student population.
Local school community councils of parents, teachers and the principal then decide how to spend the money. The members must be elected within 35 days of school starting and the number of parents on the body must be at least two more than the principal and teachers combined.
"This is money that is truly locally controlled," Margaret Bird, director of the School Children's Trust, said in a news release. "Parents, teachers and principals work together to help direct this money to improve academic excellence in the areas of greatest academic need, at every school in the state."
SITLA spokesman Dave Hebertson said the distribution has hit a record level because the principal in the fund has grown so much, from $50 million when the agency was organized in 1994 to $1.3 billion now.
The share for a large school can reach more than $100,000. Average amounts received in 2011-12, according to the School Children's Trust Section were $25,066 by elementary schools; $35,702 by middle schools; and $41,014 by high schools.
Money for academics
O To learn more about the land trust fund program that supports Utah public schools, visit schoollandtrust.org.