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As public school districts across the state consider plans to drop athletic, art and music programs due to massive budget cuts, State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn says his office is making every effort to boost revenue earnings to help cover depleted operating budgets.

“Sweeping budget cuts are expected across the board, but the State Land Office is in a strong position to support public schoolchildren and teachers,” said Dunn.

The State Land Office’s income stems primarily from oil and gas production on State Trust Lands. With just two months left in fiscal year 2017, the agency’s monthly oil and gas lease sale revenues have surpassed $61 million. Comparatively, fiscal year 2016 earnings from oil and gas lease sales totaled $36 million.

The April 18 oil and gas lease sale generated $3.985 million from 35 tracts covering 8,992 acres in Eddy, Chaves and Lea Counties.

The beneficiaries of the leased tracts include public schools, the University of New Mexico, New Mexico Military Institute, the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute, Rio Grande improvements, water reservoirs, and charitable, penal and reform efforts. Public schools will receive more than half of the lease sale revenues – $2.056 million.

The monthly lease sales, which are held the third Tuesday of each month, are held online in sealed and open bidding formats. This month, 24 bidders from six states bid on the offered tracts. Sealed bids generated $2,802,791, and open bids brought in $1,181,700.

Rockhouse Energy was the winning sealed bidder, paying $325,440 for 320 acres in Lea County. Castell Oil Company was the winning active bidder, paying $180,050 for 120 acres in Lea County.