HomeUtah’s K-12 Trust Fund Now Tops $2B, Grows $1B in Less Than Five Years

Utah’s K-12 Trust Fund Now Tops $2B, Grows $1B in Less Than Five Years

It took 116 years to accrue the first billion dollars in Utah’s K-12 Permanent School Fund, but fewer than five years to generate the second billion. The Utah State Office of Education (USOE), along with State Treasurer Richard K. Ellis and School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), recognized the $2 billion milestone today. “Rapid growth of this perpetual education endowment is due to contributions from SITLA, investment by the state treasurer, and oversight by the Utah State Board of Education and concerned stakeholders from within public education,” said Tim Donaldson, School Children’s Trust Director at the USOE. From 1894 to 1994, the Permanent School Fund balance accrued to $84 million. In 1994, SITLA began working within a new business model and helped grow the Permanent Fund to its first billion in fiscal year 2011. Since 1994, SITLA has contributed $1.4 billion in revenue to the Permanent School Fund. “The education community and Utah legislature are credited with creating SITLA’s successful business model,” said SITLA Director Kevin Carter. “The percentage growth of Utah’s Permanent School Fund over the past 20 years, now exceeds all other states.” Prior to 1994, Utah was dead last among western states in both annual trust lands earnings and its permanent school fund balance. The Administration manages Utah’s 3.3 million acres of school trust lands, generating revenue through oil, gas, and mineral leases, rents, and royalties; real estate development and sales; and surface estate sales, leases, and easements. Near-record SITLA revenues of $139 million last fiscal year helped push the fund balance to the $2 billion mark. State Treasurer Richard Ellis, chairman of the newly-recreated School Trust Fund Board of Trustees, has overseen the investment of these funds, with approximately $600 million in accrued capital gains and $300 million distributed to public schools within the decade. This past August, Utah State Treasurer Richard K. Ellis announced the appointment of a new School Trust Fund Board of Trustees, which now oversees the investment of the Permanent School Fund and will soon be hiring a Chief Investment Officer. Mr. Ellis chairs the five-person board and is joined by: Vice Chair Kent Misener, David Nixon, Duane Madsen, and John Lunt. Interest and dividends from this $2 billion perpetual education endowment are distributed annually to individual schools, and totaled $39.2 million this school year. It is expected the funds will provide more than $20 million in teacher and aide salaries this year, at no cost to Utah taxpayers.

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