Roles & Responsibilities
School trust lands are not “public lands” in the sense we think of state parks and forests. While school trust lands are open to the public and provide a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities, they are to be managed for clearly specified beneficiaries—the state’s public school students. The statutory goal is to manage school trust lands to maximize long-term economic returns while employing sound natural resource and conservation management practices. State law requires that the trust be compensated prior to a use of school trust lands that either restricts or prohibits revenue generation.
The responsibility for managing Minnesota’s school trust land and investing assets of the permanent school fund is currently divided among several state agencies and offices. Everyone who acts on the behalf of the state for the trust beneficiaries are trustees, and owe the same fiduciary duties—acting with undivided loyalty, ensuring income for current and future beneficiaries, and preserving trust assets in perpetuity. Trustees also have the duty to seek out and develop new and profitable strategies, locations, and resources, as well as new opportunities to serve (and be seen serving) the trust beneficiaries.
The Office of School Trust Lands establishes objectives for overall management and use of school trust lands and advises the Governor, Executive Council, Department of Natural Resources, and the Legislative Permanent School Fund Commission on the management of school trust lands. The DNR has the authority and responsibility of managing the lands, with the goal of maximizing long-term economic returns while employing sound natural resource and conservation management practices.
The State Board of Investment invests the PSF principal, and Minnesota Management and Budget transfers the certified earnings (interests and dividends) to the School Endowment Fund. The Department of Education then distributes those funds twice annually to all school districts in the state based on "the number of pupils in average daily membership during the preceding year."
In 2012 the Minnesota Legislature established the Legislative Permanent School Fund Commission to advise the School Trust Lands Director and Department of Natural Resources on the management of school trust lands. Comprised of 12 legislators—six from the House and six from Senate, with equal party representation—the commission reviews statutes and recommends any changes necessary for provident utilization of the lands, and reports annually to the legislature with recommendations for securing long-term economic return for the permanent school fund.