Every state entering the Union since 1803 received land grants from the federal government for the support of their respective public school systems. Inherent in this federal grant is the fiduciary duty to prudently and effectively manage these assets for the beneficiary, their school systems. We develop a framework that measures the present value of the beneficiary’s economic benefits to assist managers of school trust lands in determining future management policy. Using this framework, we assess whether managers of state school trust lands are currently meeting their fiduciary responsibilities of “maximum economic benefit” for their beneficiaries or whether changes in management policy are needed. The present value of realized economic returns from grazing lease revenues and capital appreciation are compared with the present value of income streams that may be generated from alternative investments available to the land trustees if the land were sold and the proceeds reinvested in U.S. Treasury securities. Market values and capital appreciation for school trust lands in Wyoming are estimated using hedonic models formulated from ranch sales data. Because we are comparing a risky return on land investments with a riskless return on Treasury bonds, we observe, in most cases, that the sale of land andreinvestment of proceeds will increase economic benefits on school trust lands.
The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 29, 2006
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