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Oregon schools receive $25.2 million from state's Common School Fund
For immediate release                                                                  10-01
More information:   Julie Curtis, State Lands – 503-986-5298; julie.curtis@state.or.us 
                            Jake Weigler, Education – 503-947-5650; jake.weigler@state.or.us
Semi-annual payments provide local funds for districts
Salem – Oregon's 197 K-12 public school districts received the first of two 2010 Common School Fund payments of $25,225,016.50. The funding was included in the 2009-2011 budget approved by the Oregon Legislature last year.
The State Land Board, composed of the Governor, Secretary of State and State Treasurer, oversees the fund, which was established at statehood to provide funding from state lands for Oregon's "common" - or public - schools.
Due to declines in the value of investments held by the Fund, the market value of the Common School Fund decreased significantly in 2009 from over $1 billion to a low of $720 million. As a result, 2009-11 distributions were expected to be significantly lower than previous years.
At their April 2009 public meeting, the board adopted a new distribution policy to send 4 percent of the three-year rolling average of the fund's value to schools. In June, they adopted a resolution to increase the amount to 5 percent in the 2009-11 biennium to maintain the same distribution level of funds. With this change, the anticipated total distribution for the two-year period is $99.2 million. The 2007-09 biennium distribution was $95.8 million.
"At a time when the state's funding for education is strained, we hope this will even out the distributions to schools, and provide some level of consistency for state and local education budgets," said Gov. Ted Kulongoski, chair of the Land Board.
The two-year adjustment is temporary, said Department of State Lands (DSL) Director Louise Solliday, who noted that the board's long-range goal is to significantly increase revenue into the Common School Fund through strategic land-management actions, including investments in industrial, commercial and residential lands.
DSL transmits funds each December and June to the Department of Education for distribution to the state's 197 school districts. "The Common School Fund is a vital backstop for school funding during difficult economic times," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo. "This funding will help Oregon teachers in preparing our children for education beyond high school and family-sustaining jobs in our workforce."
The Constitution requires the Land Board to manage lands under its care to obtain the greatest benefit for Oregonians, consistent with conservation values and prudent land management techniques.
The State Treasurer, one of three members of the Land Board, and the Oregon Investment Council invest the fund. By law, the state dedicates the funds for "support and maintenance of common schools in each school district."  The population of children ages 4-20 determines each county's share of the earnings.
More information about the Common School Fund is available on the DSL Web site: www.oregonstatelands.us.
EDITORS/REPORTERS:  The attachment shows the January 2010 distribution from the Common School Fund.