State endowment logs a big increase

It was a big year for Idaho’s endowment lands.

But the payoff for public schools — the endowment’s largest beneficiary — may be modest.

The state’s endowment fund reached a record $1.736 billion, riding the tide of an 18.8 percent return on investments, the Spokane Spokesman-Review’s Betsy Russell reported Tuesday.

The state Land Board received the news during its monthly meeting Tuesday.

There was no immediate boost in the K-12 payment, which has remained at $31.3 million a year for the past five years.

The state’s Endowment Fund Investment Board will meet in August to recommend payments for 2015-16, and when the Land Board reconvenes in September, the five statewide elected officials will settle on dividends. But it appears K-12 will see only a .6 percent increase, to $31.5 million, Russell reported, as the state tries to boost endowment reserves.

The endowment reserve debate has flared up in past Land Board meetings. State Superintendent Tom Luna has argued that the flat payment has not kept pace with inflation and enrollment growth. But he has found little traction with his colleagues on the board; they have sided with the investment board, which favors building a five-year reserve.