HELENA, Mont. – December 12, 2008 – (RealEstateRama) — Montana’s school trust lands in Fiscal Year 2008 generated $70.7 million for public education, the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) announced today.
“Income from trust lands is the cornerstone of public school funding,” said DNRC Director Mary Sexton. “The revenue provides base aid for K-12 education, enables school districts to maintain buildings and facilities, and assists with the purchase of new technology for classrooms across Montana.”
The $70.7 million will go into three separate accounts: $53.4 million for Public Schools (K-12) base aid; $15.4 for the School Facility Improvement Account; and $1.9 million for the state’s Technology Acquisition Fund.
Since 2005, Montana’s school trust lands have produced more than $224 million for K-12 education.
Revenue is generated through the management activities of four separate DNRC programs under the Trust Land Management Division, along with interest earned from the permanent public school trust fund. The DNRC programs include Agriculture & Grazing, Minerals, Real Estate and Forest Management.
DNRC management activities include timber harvesting and forest improvement, oil and gas and other mineral leases, commercial development, issuance of easements and cabin-site leases, agricultural and grazing leases, and recreational use.
“The K-12 aid represents more than seven percent of the state’s share of school funding, which equates to about $373 for each K-12 student annually,” said Sexton. “Without these revenues, school funding would be decreased by this amount, drawn from other state programs, or made up with increased taxes.
“This is the first year for the School Facility Improvement Account, which was established by the 2007 Legislature,” Sexton added. “Those funds will be set aside for the 2009 Legislature to address the school facility study findings.”
Any revenue generated from the sale of more than 18 million board feet of timber annually is earmarked for the Technology Acquisition Fund. Administered by the state Office of Public Instruction, these funds help schools with the purchase, rental, repair and maintenance of computer equipment and computer network access.
There are more than 5.1 million acres of state-owned school trust Lands and 6.2 million acres of state-owned mineral estates in Montana. Under the direction of the State Board of Land Commissioners, DNRC is charged with managing school trust lands to produce revenue for trust beneficiaries while considering environmental factors and protecting future income-generating capacities of the land.
The trust beneficiaries include: Common Schools (K-12); the University of Montana; Montana State University—Morrill Grant; Montana State University—Second Grant; State Reform School (Pine Hills); Public Buildings; Montana Tech; State Normal School; School for the Deaf & Blind; the Veterans Home; Montana Developmental Center and the Montana State Hospital.
Public Information Officer
Department of Natural Resources and Conservation