Montana Constitution Home
Education and Public Lands
Section 1. Educational goals and duties.
(1) It is the goal of the people to establish a system of education
which will develop the full educational potential of each person.
Equality of educational opportunity is guaranteed to each person of
(2) The state recognizes the distinct and unique cultural heritage
of the American Indians and is committed in its educational goals to
the preservation of their cultural integrity.
(3) The legislature shall provide a basic system of free quality
public elementary and secondary schools. The legislature may provide
such other educational institutions, public libraries, and
educational programs as it deems desirable. It shall fund and
distribute in an equitable manner to the school districts the
state's share of the cost of the basic elementary and secondary
Section 2. Public school fund. The
public school fund of the state shall consist of:
(1) Proceeds from the school lands which have been or may hereafter
be granted by the United States,
(2) Lands granted in lieu thereof,
(3) Lands given or granted by any person or corporation under any
law or grant of the United States,
(4) All other grants of land or money made from the United States
for general educational purposes or without special purpose,
(5) All interests in estates that escheat to the state,
(6) All unclaimed shares and dividends of any corporation
incorporated in the state,
(7) All other grants, gifts, devises or bequests made to the state
for general educational purposes.
Section 3. Public school fund inviolate.
The public school fund shall forever remain inviolate, guaranteed by
the state against loss or diversion.
Section 4. Board of land commissioners.
The governor, superintendent of public instruction, auditor,
secretary of state, and attorney general constitute the board of
land commissioners. It has the authority to direct, control, lease,
exchange, and sell school lands and lands which have been or may be
granted for the support and benefit of the various state educational
institutions, under such regulations and restrictions as may be
provided by law.
Section 5. Public school fund revenue.
(1) Ninety-five percent of all the interest received on the public
school fund and ninety-five percent of all rent received from the
leasing of school lands and all other income from the public school
fund shall be equitably apportioned annually to public elementary
and secondary school districts as provided by law.
(2) The remaining five percent of all interest received on the
public school fund, and the remaining five percent of all rent
received from the leasing of school lands and all other income from
the public school fund shall annually be added to the public school
fund and become and forever remain an inseparable and inviolable
Section 6. Aid prohibited to sectarian
schools. (1) The legislature, counties, cities, towns, school
districts, and public corporations shall not make any direct or
indirect appropriation or payment from any public fund or monies, or
any grant of lands or other property for any sectarian purpose or to
aid any church, school, academy, seminary, college, university, or
other literary or scientific institution, controlled in whole or in
part by any church, sect, or denomination.
(2) This section shall not apply to funds from federal sources
provided to the state for the express purpose of distribution to
Section 7. Nondiscrimination in
education. No religious or partisan test or qualification shall
be required of any teacher or student as a condition of admission
into any public educational institution. Attendance shall not be
required at any religious service. No sectarian tenets shall be
advocated in any public educational institution of the state. No
person shall be refused admission to any public educational
institution on account of sex, race, creed, religion, political
beliefs, or national origin.
Section 8. School district trustees.
The supervision and control of schools in each school district shall
be vested in a board of trustees to be elected as provided by law.
Section 9. Boards of education. (1)
There is a state board of education composed of the board of regents
of higher education and the board of public education. It is
responsible for long-range planning, and for coordinating and
evaluating policies and programs for the state's educational
systems. It shall submit unified budget requests. A tie vote at any
meeting may be broken by the governor, who is an ex officio member
of each component board.
(2) (a) The government and control of the Montana university system
is vested in a board of regents of higher education which shall have
full power, responsibility, and authority to supervise, coordinate,
manage and control the Montana university system and shall supervise
and coordinate other public educational institutions assigned by
(b) The board consists of seven members appointed by the governor,
and confirmed by the senate, to overlapping terms, as provided by
law. The governor and superintendent of public instruction are ex
officio non-voting members of the board.
(c) The board shall appoint a commissioner of higher education and
prescribe his term and duties.
(d) The funds and appropriations under the control of the board of
regents are subject to the same audit provisions as are all other
(3) (a) There is a board of public education to exercise general
supervision over the public school system and such other public
educational institutions as may be assigned by law. Other duties of
the board shall be provided by law.
(b) The board consists of seven members appointed by the governor,
and confirmed by the senate, to overlapping terms as provided by
law. The governor, commissioner of higher education and state
superintendent of public instruction shall be ex officio non-voting
members of the board.
Section 10. State university funds.
The funds of the Montana university system and of all other state
institutions of learning, from whatever source accruing, shall
forever remain inviolate and sacred to the purpose for which they
were dedicated. The various funds shall be respectively invested
under such regulations as may be provided by law, and shall be
guaranteed by the state against loss or diversion. The interest from
such invested funds, together with the rent from leased lands or
properties, shall be devoted to the maintenance and perpetuation of
the respective institutions.
Section 11. Public land trust,
disposition. (1) All lands of the state that have been or may be
granted by congress, or acquired by gift or grant or devise from any
person or corporation, shall be public lands of the state. They
shall be held in trust for the people, to be disposed of as
hereafter provided, for the respective purposes for which they have
been or may be granted, donated or devised.
(2) No such land or any estate or interest therein shall ever be
disposed of except in pursuance of general laws providing for such
disposition, or until the full market value of the estate or
interest disposed of, to be ascertained in such manner as may be
provided by law, has been paid or safely secured to the state.
(3) No land which the state holds by grant from the United States
which prescribes the manner of disposal and minimum price shall be
disposed of except in the manner and for at least the price
prescribed without the consent of the United States.
(4) All public land shall be classified by the board of land
commissioners in a manner provided by law. Any public land may be
exchanged for other land, public or private, which is equal in value
and, as closely as possible, equal in area.