Q Is a school board required to obtain prior approval of the Secretary of State on sixteenth section leases?

A No, the Secretary of State’s duties with regard to sixteenth section lands are statutorily set and those duties cannot be expanded to include the rejection of leases entered into by school districts pursuant to the districts’ statutory authority. Although sixteenth section leases are not required to be approved by the Secretary of State, seeking the Secretary’s approval of and signature on the leases is suggested. Because the board has a fiduciary duty to manage sixteenth section lands as trustees, the board may face personal liability if they fail to act in a reasonably prudent manner to achieve a reasonable return on the leases. Review of the leases may help avoid inadvertent violations of the law, clouds on titles, void contracts, and possible litigation; however, such review is at the option of the board. The board is free to proceed without the review at its own risk. (Attorney General’s Opinion to Lee, June 9, 2015)