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AGO 1957 No. 52 - April 23, 1957
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

SCHOOLS ‑- TEACHERS' SALARIES ‑- BASIS FOR DISTRIBUTION OF INCREASE

A board of directors need not give an increase of $505.50 to each certificated employee of the district under the provisions of Sec. 2, Ch. 301, Laws of 1957.  The board may adopt a graduated schedule or other basis so long as all of the funds apportioned to it for salary increases are used for that purpose.

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                                                                   April 23, 1957

Honorable James E. Duree
Prosecuting Attorney
Pacific County
P.O. Box 552
Raymond, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 57-58 No. 52


Dear Sir:

            You have requested an opinion from this office on the interpretation to be given a portion of Section 2, Chapter 301, Laws of 1957, relating to the appropriation for increasing the salaries of certificated employees of school districts.  We paraphrase your question as follows:

            Under the provisions of Section 2, Chapter 301, Laws of 1957, must the board of directors of a school district increase the salary of each certificated employee $505.50 over the salary paid in the 1956-57 school year?

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            We answer your question in the negative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Section 2, Chapter 301, Laws of 1957, makes the following appropriation from the current school fund:

            "For apportionment to counties for school districts in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 141, Laws of 1945, and Acts Amendatory or Supplementary thereto, and to carry out provisions of Section 31, Chapter 157, Laws of 1955, including kindergarten support:  PROVIDED, That the apportionment on the educational unit basis shall be $1,840.35 for 1957-1958 and $1,863.35 for 1958-1959:  PROVIDED, That $23,413,244.00 of this appropriation shall be used exclusively for the purpose of increasing the salaries of certificated employees of the several school districts in this state during the 1957-1959 biennium over the salaries paid in the 1956-1957 school year.  The said sum at the rate of $505.50 per certificated employee for 1957-1958 and $505.50 per certificated employee for 1958-1959.  The board of directors of each school district shall establish the basis for distributing the district's portion of the $23,413,244.00 allotted to it among the certificated employees employed by such district                       $236,374,677.00"

  (Emphasis supplied)

            In interpreting a statute the intent of the legislature must be ascertained and given effect and this intent is to be determined primarily from the language of the statute itself.  Driscoll v. City of Bremerton, 48 Wn. (2d) 95, 99.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            We are here concerned with the method by which the increase provided for in the underlined portion of the above statute is to be distributed to the certificated employees of the various school districts.  Standing alone, the phrase, "the said sum at the rate of $505.50 per certificated employee" is fairly susceptible of the construction that the legislature intended a flat $505.50 increase for each certificated employee.  However, such an interpretation creates a conflict between the phrase and the sentence which follows it.  That sentence clearly gives to the board of directors of each district authority to establish the basis for distributing the district's portion of the $23,413,244.00 among the certificated employees employed by the district.

            A statute should be so construed that no clause, sentence or word is superfluous or insignificant.  Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound et al. v. King County Medical Society, 39 Wn. (2d) 586, 637; Public Hospital District v. Taxpayers, 44 Wn. (2d) 623, 625.  Each part of a statute must be construed with every other part and, if possible, two parts of one act dealing with the same subject should be so construed so as to maintain the integrity of both.  City of Tacoma v. Cavanaugh, 45 Wn. (2d) 500, 503.

            Construing the statute in the light of the above principles, it is our opinion that the underlined portion of the statute must be interpreted in the following manner: The first sentence earmarks $23,413,244.00 of the total appropriation for increasing the salaries of certificated employees during the 1957-1959 biennium.  It does not, however, afford a guide to insure the proper expenditure of this sum by the individual school district.  The phrase which follows does this.  It requires each school district to expend $505.50 per certificated employee of the total amount of money apportioned to it by the state for increasing the salaries of certificated employees each year of the biennium.  The last sentence authorizes the board of directors of each school district to establish the basis for distributing the district's portion of the  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] $23,413,244.00 among the certificated employees of the district.

            This construction of the statute avoids any conflict in its terms and gives every phrase and sentence a meaning consistent with the purpose of the act.

            We conclude, therefore, that a board of directors need not give an increase of $505.50 to each certificated employee of the district.  The board of directors may adopt a graduated schedule or other basis for distributing the funds apportioned to it for salary increases, so long as all of the funds apportioned to the district for salary increases are used for the purpose of increasing the salaries of certificated employees over the salaries paid in the 1956-1957 school year.

            We trust that this opinion will be of assistance to you.

Yours very truly,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General


ELVIN J. VANDEBERG
Assistant Attorney General

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