State of Wisconsin
Board of Commissioners of Public Lands
Who we are and what we do
The Board of Commissioners of Public Lands
(BCPL), Wisconsin’s oldest state agency, is comprised of Secretary of State Douglas La Follette, State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, and Attorney General Josh Kaul. We proudly carry on the pioneering commitment of our state’s early leaders to a constitutionally protected form of public education financing that originated with millions of acres of land granted by the federal government.
Nearly all of the School Trust Lands were sold over 100 years ago. The proceeds were used to establish the School Trust Funds
, which continue to grow with revenue from unclaimed property, clear proceeds of civil and criminal fees, fines and forfeitures, and timber production on School Trust Lands.
We manage these Funds and the remaining School Trust Lands
for the benefit of public school libraries, the University of Wisconsin, and the state’s citizens. See our Common School Fund Brochure
and our Normal School Fund Brochure
We also maintain a rich archive of historical records
related to the agency’s past and present land holdings.
With only 9.5 full-time employees we manage over $1 billion in Trust Fund assets and 77,000 acres of School Trust Lands - at no cost to the taxpayer. By distributing over 96 cents on every dollar earned from our investments to our K-12 public school beneficiaries, our trust fund management is unrivalled by our counterparts in the public and private sector.
How you benefit
This small state agency is an integral part of Wisconsin’s history and economy. Our financial investments, land management practices, and archive benefit every citizen of the state.
- We generate investment income for distribution as public school library aid— a total of $35.7 million in 2018. See what your school received by clicking here.
- We loan money to municipalities and school districts for public purpose projects— nearly $122 million approved during that same time period.
- We contribute to Wisconsin’s sustainable timber economy, combat forest fragmentation, and secure public access to large blocks of northern forests.
- We manage an extensive archive consulted by land owners, surveyors, researchers, and others interested in this rich source of historical information about the state’s land and early settlers.
We are grateful for this opportunity to serve as stewards of the lands, moneys, and records we hold in trust for all of Wisconsin's citizens.