In 1858, the year of Minnesota’s statehood, and even before that in our territorial days, our founders had the foresight to recognize our land is one of our most valuable assets.
They also recognized that the future success of our state would be determined by the opportunities for another valuable asset: Minnesota’s students.
These founding Minnesotans thought this was important enough to etch in the Minnesota Constitution.
Originally totaling 8.1 million acres, School Trust Lands were set aside for the express purpose of generating revenue for our schools. Many of them have been sold and today in northern Minnesota, 2.5 million remain with another million acres of severed mineral rights.
Minnesota has a Permanent School Fund with the DNR serving as trustee of the lands.
Under the law, the DNR is directed to maximize long-term economic returns while maintaining sound natural resource conservation and management principles.
The state Board of Investment in turn invests these funds, and the dividends get distributed to school districts. In 2018, activity on these lands generated over $33 million to expand education opportunities across the state for more than 856,000 students.
While many Minnesotans may not even be aware of this land or this funding, all of our students benefit from it. Since the funding mechanism is based on population, it’s actually the larger districts in the metro area who receive the biggest benefit.
The lion’s share of the funding for the Permanent School Fund comes from mining – a full 80 percent of them historically comes from mineral interests.
When we talk about supporting mining, we’re also talking about everything mining supports. This includes the school children not just of the Iron Range, but of the whole state.
I’m committed to improving stewardship and management of these lands to enable our students to have strong opportunities for generations to come.