Schools set to receive funding boost courtesy of timber sales

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.

The Land Board helps the Idaho Department of Lands direct management of more than 2.4 million acres of land in Idaho.

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