Rancher-farmer trust funds provide for North Dakota schools
BISMARCK, N.D. - The Board of University and School Lands (Land Board) has authorized $305.9 million to be distributed to schools and state institutions during the 2017-2019 biennium. The allocation represents a 40% increase compared to funding p...
BISMARCK, N.D. - The Board of University and School Lands (Land Board) has authorized $305.9 million to be distributed to schools and state institutions during the 2017-2019 biennium. The allocation represents a 40% increase compared to funding provided from constitutional trust funds during the current biennium.
The Land Board, established by the North Dakota Constitution, oversees the land, mineral and financial assets held within 13 constitutional trust funds established at statehood. These permanent trusts support K-12 public education, various universities, and state facilities including the State Hospital and the schools for the blind and the deaf.
The Land Board’s members are: Governor Jack Dalrymple, Secretary of State Al Jaeger, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler and State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt.
“As we reflect on the formation of North Dakota 127 years ago, it is appropriate to recognize the legacy that was established for future North Dakotans with a grant of land to support schools and public institutions,” said Lance Gaebe, the Land Board-appointed commissioner.
The trust funds have grown through rents paid by ranchers and farmers, steady investment returns, and the successful development of the trusts’ oil, gas and other mineral resources. The value of the Common Schools and other permanent trust funds have quadrupled since 2009, growing from $900 million to $3.7 billion.
As a result of permanent trust fund growth, contributions to education and support for state facilities has more than tripled over the last decade from $82.3 million during 2009-2011 to $305.9 for the upcoming biennium. Distributions are determined by a constitutional formula and are based on the average value of trust financial assets.
Of the $305.9 million slated for distribution during the 2017-2019 biennium, $288.3 million will be disbursed from the Common Schools Trust Fund. During the current school year, public school districts will receive $9,646 per student in state funds, which include distributions from the trust fund. The remaining twelve trust funds will provide $17.6 million for the legislature to appropriate to various state institutions and colleges.
“Money shared from the Common Schools Trust Fund helps reduce pressure on state and local taxes, making these lands and revenues- gifts that keep on giving,” Gaebe said.
In addition to overseeing trust lands and minerals, the Land Board also determines how the trust funds are invested.
“The funds are invested in a diversified and conservative portfolio which balances the need for current distributions and future growth,” Gaebe said. “With stable investment returns, expanding income sources, and the sensible maintenance of real property, the trust funds’ beneficiaries will continue to benefit from the permanent trusts for generations to come.”