School Community Councils get funds to use in areas of Academic Need
Utah schools received good news Tuesday morning. The School Children’s Trust Section of the Utah State Office of Education announced it will hand out $29 million for the 2012-2013 school year.
The money is administered through the School LAND Trust Program to school community councils to help make improvements in academics.
Margaret Bird, director of the Schools Children’s Trust, said these funds are the only discretionary funding that every Utah public school gets. Once given to the school, local elected people decide what their school’s most pressing academic need is and they develop a plan to improve it.
“In one school that academic need may be a science lab with supplies for experiments, in another it may be a computer lab, in another it may be hiring Latino high school students to tutor struggling English learners, in another it may be books to take home each night on that elementary student’s reading level, in another it may be a gifted program,” Bird said.
This year’s amount is the largest since the School LAND Trust Program was created in 2001. Community councils received $4.9 million that first year of the program. In the 2011-2012 school year, councils received $25.8 million.
The School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration ( SITLA) is an independent state agency that manages 3.4 million acres of Utah trust lands for the financial benefit of Utah’s public schools and 11 other public institutions.
Revenues come from natural gas, coal, oil, real estate development, and other surface uses such as grazing, according to the agency.
Agency staff said the net revenues are deposited in the permanent State School Fund and invested by the state treasurer with the advice of the Investment Advisory Committee. It’s those dividends and interests from the Fund that have been distributed to Utah schools.
“The school trust lands were envisioned in legislation five years before the passage of the U.S. Constitution. It is pretty incredible that over two centuries later, those lands are generating money into the School Fund that is invested by our State Treasurer, and the interest is still having a significant impact on the education of every Utah student.”