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The Board of Educational Lands and Funds was established by the Nebraska Constitution to serve as trustee of the lands contributed to the state in 1867 by the federal government. As trustee of these lands, the Board is bound by fiduciary duty to its beneficiaries – the K-12 public school children of Nebraska. In exercising this fiduciary duty, the Board must use the judgment and care that persons of skill, prudence, and intelligence would exercise in the management of their own affairs.
The Board and its staff are firmly committed to the mission of maximizing the income from our properties, while still exercising careful stewardship of the land, and treating our Lessees fairly. In pursuit of these goals, every effort is made to conduct the Board’s business consistent with a profit motive patterned after the most efficient enterprises in the private sector.
The Board serves in the dual capacity of land owner and land manager, collecting rent on approximately 3,200 agricultural leases and mineral and renewable energy leases. In its capacity as landowner, the Board makes expenditures for conservation, improvement and management of the land in its care. The Board also sells and trades land to the extent that such transactions are consistent with the Board’s fiduciary duty.
The Board pays full county real estate taxes on its land in support of K-12 schools and other local entities. Millions in real estate taxes are paid by the Board during a typical year.
The Board does not receive funding from the State. Thus, no tax money is received by the Board and all funding for the Board’s operations comes from its leasing operations. None of the net income obtained from the Board’s operations is paid to the State; rather each year all of the net income earned by the Board is paid out for the benefit of K-12 public education in the State.
The net income from the Trust is deposited in the Temporary School Fund and then is annually distributed from that fund to the K-12 public schools statewide on a per pupil basis. Proceeds from land sales and mineral royalties are deposited in the Permanent School Fund. The Permanent Fund is managed by the Nebraska Investment Council. The net income from the Permanent Fund is also deposited in the Temporary Fund and distributed to the public schools each year. Since 2005, the total combined amount distributed to the K-12 public schools was $602.86 million.
During 2019, approximately $43.706 million was distributed for K-12 public education. This amount does not include county real estate taxes paid by the Board; a majority of which funds local public schools.