Idaho public schools are set to receive a funding boost next year courtesy of timber sales on state endowment lands.
On Tuesday, the State Board of Land Commissioners approved an increase in payouts from endowment funds benefiting K-12 public schools, universities, the Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind and other beneficiaries.
Under the arrangement, Idaho public schools will receive $50.3 million in 2018-19, representing a 7 percent increase over distributions from the current budget year.
Although endowment payments are on the rise, proceeds from endowment lands represent a small fraction of the nearly $1.7 billion public school budget, which is Idaho’s largest general fund expense each year.
Total payouts for all endowment land beneficiaries for 2018-19 will reach $78.2 million, a new high-water mark representing a 6.4 percent increase over the current year.
Most of the money comes from timber sales and investment returns, the Idaho Department of Lands announced in a Tuesday news release. The endowment fund posted a 12.8 percent rate of return in 2016-17, representing earnings of $234 million, Idaho Department of Lands officials said. That compared with a $3 million loss in 2015-16.
The Land Board is made up of Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra, Gov. Butch Otter, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, Secretary of State Lawerence Denney and State Controller Brandon Woolf.
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The Land Board helps the Idaho Department of Lands direct management of more than 2.4 million acres of land in Idaho.