When South Dakota became a state in 1889, the Federal Government granted the state over 3.5 million acres of land. Township sections 16 and 36 were reserved for school and public purposes; these are known as Common School Lands. If the sections were already settled, the government provided replacement property known as indemnity lands. Additional property was also provided to be used however the state wished. The South Dakota Constitution divided these lands among the state’s universities, the School for the Visually Impaired, the School for the Deaf, State Training School, and the Developmental Center in Redfield. To manage these lands and the money generated, the constitution established the Office of School and Public Lands. According to the Constitution, common school and indemnity lands were either to be sold or leased and the proceeds deposited in a permanent trust fund for education. The principal could be increased, but never diminished. Interest from the fund was to be used for funding education.
The state also retains the mineral rights and leases those rights to private companies. These companies pay royalties to the state for every barrel of oil produced. South Dakota is not a large oil producer like North Dakota but over $2 million a year are generated from existing wells.
All land and minerals are leased at public auction with the income going to support education and endowed institutions.
School and Public Lands has a rich legacy and history in the state. Ryan's experience has enabled him to manage these state owned land and assets in a way that will continue to benefit our state school children for years to come.