Almost $1 Billion Raised for Mississippi Schools During Hosemann’s Tenure as Secretary of State
Sixteenth section land lease review and management policies put in place by Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann have paid off for public schools in Mississippi—to the tune of almost $1 billion.
As State Land Commissioner, the Secretary of State, alongside School Boards and Boards of Supervisors, oversees the management and leasing of more than 640,000 acres of 16th section public school trust lands for 101 school districts. Sixteenth section land is acreage set aside when the State of Mississippi was first surveyed to help fund education. School districts collect interest and revenue by leasing the lands for development, farming, hunting, and oil and gas exploration, among other purposes.
Fulfilling a campaign promise, Secretary Hosemann implemented a number of changes to 16th section management aimed at leasing for fair value and increasing transparency including:
- Publishing all 16th section lease information on the Agency’s website for public review;
- Drafting standard lease forms to be used by all school districts;
- Reviewing and approving all leases to ensure all leases are for fair market rental;
- Brokered an agreement with the Mississippi Forestry Commission to bring modern forest management practices to timber production on the land; and
- Retained forestry experts to advise the Agency on timber management.
“We have teachers spending their own money every year decorating their classrooms, purchasing school supplies, and doing whatever they have to do to make sure their students are healthy and ready to learn,” Secretary Hosemann said. “We can’t afford to ignore these leases or give sweetheart deals on this land when every penny is going to our cash-strapped public schools.”
In the 10 years before Secretary Hosemann assumed office in 2007, 16th section annual revenue averaged about $65 million. Since 2008, Secretary Hosemann’s first year as Secretary of State, annual revenue has been between $80 million and $105 million.
Secretary Hosemann has made supporting public schools a priority throughout his tenure through other initiatives including Promote the Vote, a K-12 civic engagement program which educates students on the importance of voting and getting involved in their communities.
In August 2018, Secretary Hosemann made a commitment to raise teacher pay in Mississippi and address workforce development needs at the elementary and secondary levels in the State.