Additional $602,221 in trust funds to bolster Sanpete schools
The North and South Sanpete School Districts are heading into this academic year with an extra $602,221, courtesy of a 7.7 percent increase in the Utah State Permanent School Fund, a trust fund that holds income from lands Utah received at statehood to benefit education.
The Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), responsible for the generating funds from school trust lands, helped Utah K-12 schools enter this new school year with a record $49.3 million in earnings from the permanent fund.
The increase percentage was announced by Utah State Treasurer David Damschen last month and reflects an extra $3.5 million in earnings in the fund in 2015-16 compared to the previous year.
Money from the permanent fund is allocated to districts based on enrollment. North Sanpete will receive $273,820 and South Sanpete $328,401.
Every school in each district will receive funds, also based on enrollment. The discretionary funds support academic programs chosen by individual school community councils, which are composed of parents, teachers and the principal from the schools.
The school community councils write up plans explaining how they want to spend the permanent school fund money they receive. The plans are approved by each local school board.
“We’re going to be able to a lot of things we couldn’t do before,” North Sanpete Superintendent Sam Ray says. “It helps us to provide opportunities for students that we couldn’t in past years. I think that our schools have done a great job in maximizing these benefits to improve the education for our kids.”
State policy requires the councils to spend the money for instructional purposes, thus excluding any expenses not directly benefitting the education of Sanpete youth, according to the SITLA press release.
“Hiring teachers and aides to reduce class sizes, and investing in classroom technology are often priorities for many schools,” Tim Donaldson, director of the School Children’s Trust at the Utah State Board of Education, says. “However, all academic programs, from reading and math tutoring to language and college prep courses, can be funded with school trust funds.”
At $2.08 billion, the Permanent State School Fund is the state’s largest land-grant trust fund.
The Permanent Fund is expected to continue increasing in value year after year, generating millions in revenue to directly fund the education of Utah’s children, the SITLA release said.