The nation’s largest educational endowment, the Texas Permanent School Fund (PSF), hit a record high value, topping $41 billion, according to the State Board of Education (SBOE).
On Tuesday, the SBOE announced that, as of the end of its fiscal year on August 31, the fund was preliminarily valued at $41.44 billion. Of that, the state’s education board manages $32.73 billion which the Texas Education Agency (TEA) staff administers. The General Land Office (GLO) oversees the remaining $8.7 billion through the School Land Board (SLB).
“This newest value represents a total increase of $4.16 billion over the past year,” said SBOE Chair Donna Bahorich in a prepared statement. “The Permanent School Fund is the gift that keeps on giving to Texas schools.”
In 2014, the PSF surpassed Harvard’s well-known educational endowment. At $37.7 billion, the fund edged out the Ivy League university’s $36.4 billion. Since then, the PSF continues to remain the nation’s largest educational endowment.
Breitbart Texas reported the state began the fund in 1854 with $2 million. Bahorich noted that today, the PSF “is the country’s preeminent education endowment.” She stated: “With the board’s careful oversight and the continued strong day-to-day administration of the Fund by the Permanent School Fund staff, the Fund will continue to support Texas schools for generations to come.”
The PSF distributes monies that pay for instructional materials, technology, and day-to-day operating expenses in 1,207 school districts and charter schools.
Previously, the TEA told Breitbart Texas that the fund also guarantees bonds issued by local school districts and charter schools, giving districts the equivalent of a AAA credit rating, the highest available. As a result, qualified districts can pay lower interest rates when issuing bonds, saving taxpayers billions of dollars.
According to SBOE member David Bradley, chair of the board’s school finance committee, the PSF is projected to distribute $2.5 billion to Texas schools in the 2018-19 school year. “This is the largest distribution in the Fund’s 163-year history and is $400 million higher than the distribution made in the 2016-2017 biennium,” he said.
Since its establishment by an amendment to the Texas Constitution in 1983, the PSF guaranteed more than $166 billion in bonds. This assures investors in the event a school district or charter school defaults on the monies; however, the SBOE underscores, there has never been a default in the history of the program.
According to the press release, Holland Timmins, the fund’s executive administrator and chief investment officer, said that the Permanent School Fund’s growth is attributed to strong performance across the portfolio, particularly equities and alternative assets. He said that most asset classes outperformed their benchmarks during the past year.
The portion of the PSF managed by the SBOE currently invests in 12 asset classes. The largest category is domestic large cap equity in which 18 percent of the assets are invested as of August 31. The smallest category, at 2.5 percent of the PSF, is in commodities. The SBOE stated that, in 1975, the fund invested in only two asset class categories – domestic fixed income and domestic equity.
The Texas oil and gas industry also boosts the PSF portfolio every year. GLO Press Secretary Brittany Eck told Breitbart Texas, “Since its inception, oil and gas royalties and other investments managed by the School Land Board (SLB) generated approximately $20.4 billion in revenue for the benefit of the Permanent School Fund.”
She added: “In Fiscal Year 2017 alone, oil and gas royalties and other investments managed by the SLB generated approximately $2 billion in revenue for the benefit of the PSF.”
In August, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath announced that, for the third consecutive year, the PSF received the highest form of national recognition in the areas of governmental accounting and financial reporting, the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.
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