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National Monuments Standing in the Way of Public Ed? Why Utah Leaders are Sparring

National Monuments Impeding on Public Education? Why Ed Leaders and Policy Makers in Utah are Sparring

It's not every day that a desire for more national monuments creates a tense political battle over education funds, but that's exactly what's happening in Utah right now.

As Senate Minority Leader Jim Dabakis (D-Salt Lake City) reportedly is set to head to the White House this week to urge Obama to designate national monuments in the state, education leaders in the state are fighting back, saying the move could take much needed funding from Utah's K-12 schools.

"The Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), which manages the state's trust land portfolio, reports more than 157,000 acres of trust lands would be captured within the boundaries of the proposed Bears' Ears monument," according to a statement from The Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration.

Utah is one of 23 trust land states and as a result owns six million acres of trust lands that are designated to " support state institutions, including public schools, and state hospitals and colleges."

"Over the past decade, SITLA has generated $1.2 billion in revenue from Utah's trust lands, helping to grow Utah's Permanent School Fund to $2 billion. Interest and dividends from the Fund have provided $310 million to Utah schools over that same period," SITLA said in the statement.

"We encourage federal officials to consider the impact a national monument would have on our public schools, ensure schools are not harmed financially, and immediately make the school trust whole for any lost revenue from captured trust lands," said Tracy Miller, Utah PTA Trust Lands Board Specialist.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, most Utahns agree in opposing the naming of a new national monument in the state.

"A new poll by Utah Policy shows 58 percent of Utahns 'definitely' or 'probably' oppose President Barack Obama using his executive authority to name a new monument in the state as he has in several areas of the country so far. About 32 percent of those who were polled said they support such a move," The Tribune said.

Read more here.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

10/06/2015

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