School Lands are land grants established in support of education. Support for public education in the United States predates the constitution; two years before the adoption of the United States Constitution of 1787, the Congress of the Confederation provided support for public schooling by establishing the land grants in the Land Ordinance of May 20, 1785 which granted Section 16 (one square mile) of every township to be used for public education: "There shall be reserved the Lot No. 16, of every township, for the maintenance of public schools within said township."
In the land ordinance, the township is not a civil township but a surveying unit: a six mile by six mile square, divided into 36 one square mile sections. The one square mile Section 16 is located near the center of the township. (For states surveyed under the federal rectangular system, survey townships and civil townships usually have the same boundaries, but there are many exceptions.)
The School Lands are part of the Ohio Lands, comprising land grants in Ohio from the United States federal government for public schools. According to the Official Ohio Lands Book, "by 1920, 73,155,075 acres of public land had been given by the federal government to the public land states in support of public schooling."
In the Land Ordinance of 1785 provision was also made by land grant for higher education (the College Lands).
historical collections of ohio.School lands, page 562.