In 1853, with the passage of the Act of March 3, 1853 (10 Stat. 244), the Federal Government gifted 5.5 million acres to the State of California to be used for the support of public education. Between 1855 and 1984, nearly 90 percent of the “school lands” (all of the high quality land) was sold, leaving behind mostly desert land, most of which falls within the boundaries of the lands protected by the California Desert Protection Act.
Since 1984, the remaining lands have been under the trusteeship of the State Lands Commission with the proceeds from land sales reinvested into the trust and only the lease income flows to the Teacher Retirement System’s Supplemental Benefit Maintenance Account. The School Land Bank Fund currently holds 469,000± acres of land and another 790,000± acres of mineral rights where the surface rights have been previously sold.