Common School Fund
School Districts receive an annual distribution of earnings from the Common School Fund. These funds (commonly known as Library Aid) are used to purchase library books and other instructional materials. Managed by the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL), the Common School Fund was established by the Wisconsin Constitution in 1848 with the granting of about 1.5 million acres of land for educational purposes. The vast majority of these lands were sold to create the principal for a permanent school fund, with the earnings to be exclusively used to support and maintain common schools (now known as K-12 public schools) and the purchase of suitable libraries and apparatus therefor. The Wisconsin Constitution also provided for growth of Common School Fund principal through the addition of clear proceeds of all fines, fees, and forfeitures, including unclaimed property.
The BCPL board is comprised of State Attorney General Josh Kaul, State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, and Secretary of State Douglas La Follette. Together they manage the Common School Fund which today holds approximately $955 million in financial assets and about 5,600 remaining acres of trust lands. The Board invests the trust fund assets with the goal of providing a long term stable source of public school library funding. The primary investment vehicle is the BCPL State Trust Fund Loan Program, which loans money to local communities for public purpose projects including: economic development, school repairs and improvements, local infrastructure and utility projects, and capital equipment and vehicle purchases. The interest earned on these loans and other investments provide the funds distributed to School Districts as Library Aid.
Additional information about BCPL and the Common School Fund may be found on Board of Commissioners of Public Lands website.