Trust Lands Specialist
Utah PTA has been advocating for Utah's children for over 80 years. Twenty-five years ago, when the education community realized the school trust lands were under performing, Utah PTA was at the forefront of the reform efforts, helping to ensure these assets were managed with the best interests of Uah's public school children in mind. Uah PTA continues to advocate for all of Utah's children, for proper management of our school trust lands, and for the distribution from the investment of trust land revenues to continue to make a diference in our schools.
School Trust Lands were granted by the United States to each state joining the union beginning with Ohio 1803 through Alaska in 1959. These lands were granted in trust for the support of public education. Initially, each state received one square mile in each thirty-six square mile township. As western states were added, the grants expanded to two sections per township. When Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico entered the union they were granted four sections per township. Currently there are 3.4 million surface acres of Trust Land in Utah.
For more information on School Trust Lands, please see the documents below:
The Utah State Legislature passed a law in 2000 requiring every public school in the state to establish a School Community Council at the school-site level (Utah Code. Section 53A-1a-108). Each Scool Community Council consists of the principal, school empoyees, and parents or guardians of students attending the school. The School Community Council determines their school's greatest academic need and prepares a plan to address that need with the school's portion of the money distributed from the School LAND Trust program.
For more information on School Community Councils, please visit http://www.schoollandtrust.org/ and use this website as an invaluable resource for your School Community Council. It includes information about elections and the responsibilities of council members along with timelines, checklists and other training materials.
A bill passed in the 2015 legislative session giving School Community Councils the responsibility to partner with school administration in creating a safe and constructive internet environment for students. If your council is looking for training options to meet the new Safe Technology and Digital Citizenship requirements, there are resources available at no charge. Please see the document below for a list of these resources.
Join the "Utah School Community Councils" group on Facebook
in order to receive information, ask questions and share ideas with other SCC members.
The goals of the Utah PTA Trust Lands Board Specialist are to:
- Educate Utahns on the importance of school trust lands, the School LAND Trust program, and on the role of trust lands in education funding.
- Educate parents, community councils and PTA members on the role and function of community councils, the role of PTA in community councils, and the importance of PTA involvement with community councils.
- Advocate for PTA and trust land/community council issues with the Utah legislature, the state executive office (governor, attorney general, state treasurer), state and local school boards, the School and Institutional Trust Land Administration, the School and Institutional Trust Fund Office, and other local, state and federal policy makers.
- Coordinate efforts to influence federal actions, policies and legislation that affect Utah trust lands.
In fiscal year 2014, the School Land Trust Program distributed almost 37.44 million dollars to the public schools in the state. The document below, prepared by the State Office of Education for the Utah State Legislature in 2012, shows how the money has been spent, and how the fund has grown in the past years. This is a great summary, and would be good to bring with you when discussing Trust Land issues with policy makers.
In 1989, PTA member Sandra Skossen of Monticello, UT passed a resolution through the May 1989 State PTA convention to look into school trust lands and the revenue they should be generating for schools. Utah PTA adopted a position statement that trust lands should be more productive. The Utah PTA began educating members on trust lands through classes at convention and publications.
Utah PTA has been involved ever since and continues to follow issues that will affect Trust Lands and/or the permanent State School Fund. Download the PDF for a complete history.