(KCPW News) Utah’s public schools are about to split $29 million dollars as the school year gets underway. Margaret Bird, Director of the School Children’s Trust says the money is being distributed through the School LAND Trust Program this year, and it’s the largest amount ever since the program was created in 2001.
“This is a trust that belongs to the children. Utah received four square miles for every 36 square miles or one ninth of the state and we make money from those lands,” she explains. “The money it invested by the state treasurer and it’s just the interest and dividends that we’re spending, so over time, the amount of money going out to schools should be going up and this year it certainly proves that it is.”
Last school year, high schools received an average of $41,000 dollars, while middle schools got nearly $36,000 and elementary schools $25,000.
Bird says parents, teachers and principals who sit on the schools’ community councils will get to decide how the money is spent.
“It’s the only discretionary money every school gets, and it’s money that the parents have a say in; it’s not just decided by someone in an office. So, in one school you’ll see the money used for a wonderful science lab, in another school you’ll see wonderful math programs,” she says.
Utah’s School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, or SITLA, manages 3.4 million acres of land. Its revenue comes from energy production, leasing surface rights for activities like farming or grazing, and trust land sales.