November 15, 2021

Superintendent Arntzen Accepts $47.7 Million from 

Trust Lands Common Schools Distribution

Increase of more than $6 million from last year’s distribution

HELENA – As one of five members of the Montana Land Board, State Superintendent Elsie Arntzen today accepted $47.7 million on behalf of public schools from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) at today’s Land Board meeting.

“This $47.7 million earned from our state trust lands will benefit every public classroom and student in Montana,” said State Superintendent Elsie Arntzen. “Without our state trust lands working for schools, our Montana taxpayers would have carried a much greater burden.  I applaud the great work of the Trust Lands Management Division at DNRC in giving us as Land Board Commissioners great information to make sound decisions,” Arntzen added.

 This year’s check to common schools is $47.7 million, an increase of $6 million from last year. The increase comes primarily from agriculture lease revenues, grazing revenues, and timber revenues. The $47.7 million equates to about $327 per student in our public schools. Agriculture lease revenues make up $16.8 million from wheat, barley, and hay; grazing revenues make up $13.7 million, and timber revenues make up $23.3 million.

During Superintendent Arntzen’s time in office, the following distributions have been made available for the benefit of Montana’s public schools:

  • 2017:  $43.1 million
  • 2018:  $41.9 million
  • 2019:  $45.9 million
  • 2020:  $41.1 million

All state trust lands are managed by the DNRC Trust Lands Management Division and benefit public schools through the sale of timber, surface, and mineral resources. The Land Board members are the five constitutionally elected officials in the state -- the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, and the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance.

When Montana became a state in 1889, it received through the Enabling Act a vast amount of lands to be utilized for the support of Common Schools.  Over time, a number of educational institutions have been the beneficiaries of the proceeds realized from the management of these resources. Today, the State holds in trust roughly 5.2 million surface acres and approximately 6.2 million acres of mineral interests.