Posted inEducation

From public lands to Montana classrooms

Just ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, state Superintendent Elsie Arntzen issued a celebratory announcement that she’d accepted $46.3 million from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. Her message came complete with a photo of a large novelty check made out to “Montana’s K-12 Schools” and emblazoned with the image of a remote state-owned cabin site in Sanders County. The celebration spoke to a line often repeated by politicians and conservationists about the role that public lands — and, more specifically, the money they generate — play in Montana’s public school system. But as with so many revenue streams in state government, the full story is far from simple.