The Texas Permanent School Fund is a $22 billion endowment designated for the benefit of public schools in Texas. The Texas Legislature appropriated $2 million for the endowment in 1854, and it has since grown through funds generated from land investments across the state, including monies from mineral resources sales and rentals.
The State Board of Education (SBOE) runs the endowment and approves all appropriations. The fund usually pays for textbooks for Texas schoolchildren and guarantees bonds issued by local school districts. The SBOE has also considered using it to fund charter schools.
The value of the fund, based on investments and market values of land and oil, fluctuates unpredictably. Its value dropped to $16 million in the spring of 2009 before rebounding at the end of that year. Critics say the legislature views the available school fund as a way to take money away from education and put it to other uses. More than half the money in the 2010-2011 biennium was used to cover a state budget shortfall in general education funding. This use of funds upset current board members who remained adamant about using the money to fund new textbooks.
The SBOE has approved $1.9 billion in funding for the 2012-2013 biennium to support public education.