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AGO 1953 No. 482 - February 25, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

SCHOOL DISTRICTS ‑- POWERS AND DUTIES OF SECOND CLASS SCHOOL DISTRICTS ‑- SALE OF PROPERTY ‑- WHETHER A SECOND CLASS SCHOOL DISTRICT CAN CONVEY PROPERTY TO A FIRE DISTRICT FOR A NOMINAL CONSIDERATION, OR WHETHER IT MUST ACCEPT THE HIGHEST BID AT A PUBLIC AUCTION. 

The directors of second class school district may convey property to a fire district for a nominal consideration if so authorized by the vote of the electors of the district.

                                                                  - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                February 25, 1953 

Honorable Robert S. Campbell, Jr.
Prosecuting Attorney
Grant County
Ephrata, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 482

 Dear Sir:

             This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter of January 29, 1953, in which you ask the following:

             Does the Marlin School District, a second class school district, have any right to convey property to the Ruff Fire District for a nominal consideration, or must it accept the highest bid at a public sale?  In addition, what procedure should be followed after the electors of the school district have authorized the same?

             Our conclusions may be summarized as follows:

             The director of the Marlin School District may convey property to the Ruff Fire District for a nominal consideration if authorized by a vote of the electors of the district.  This authorization may be given at a proper election or at a special meeting of the voters of the district, as provided in RCW 28.58.370.

                                                                      ANALYSIS

             The first point of consideration regards the right of a second class school district to convey property to a fire district for a nominal consideration as  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] against the highest bidder at a public sale.  RCW 28.62.190 describes the procedure to be followed for the sale of school property in a first class district.  A prior opinion rendered by this office dated July 12, 1945, to the prosecuting attorney of Mason County, suggests that the provisions of the statute governing the sale of real property by first class districts and by second and third class districts were not intended to be read together, and that the specific requirements relating to districts of the first class do not govern second and third class districts.  In effect, this facilitates a sale by a second class school district of property by means other than by public auction for cash.

             RCW 28.58.370 provides for the sale of real property belonging to a school district.  It reads as follows:

             "The board of directors of a district may, and upon a petition of a majority of the legal voters of their district shall, call a special meeting of the voters of the district, to determine:

             "* * *

             "(5) Whether or not the district shall sell any real or personal property belonging to the district, borrow money, or establish and maintain a school district library."

             In the case of School District No. 176 of King County v. A. N. Sanford, 121 Wash. 42, 207 Pac. 1058, the court interpreted RCW 28.58.370 and 28.58.380 (Rem. Rev. Stat. §§ 5028 and 5029) by using the following language:

             "Had a vote of the people, as we have already indicated, merely given the board of directors authority to sell, the presumption would be that that vote would not have authorized the board to enter into a contract of sale such as that set out in the affirmative defense.  In the case ofSchool District No. 6 v. Aetna Insurance Co., 62 Me. 330, it was decided, under such circumstances, 'that a specific authority or direction to sell does not authorize a sale on credit.'  * * *  The Maine case recognizes that proof of custom to the contrary or a ratification by the voters of the credit sale would have overcome the presumption and validated the sale.  * * *"

              [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Quoting further from the same opinion:

             "We therefore hold that the voters having authorized the making of the sale by contract, that the act of the board of directors in conformity with that direction of the voters of the district was lawful, * * *"

             It is our opinion that RCW 28.58.370 provides that real property of a school district of the second class may be sold after the legal voters of the school district have had a special meeting to determine whether or not, and in what manner, such property should be sold.

             Therefore, if the electors of the district, at a special meeting as provided under the statutes, determine that this schoolhouse and land shall be sold and provide the manner of the sale, the action of the directors under the voters' authorization would be lawful.

             The use of the special meeting is suggested to avoid the expense of holding a special election or the delay of waiting for an annual election.  RCW 28.58.380 and 28.58.390 (Rem. Rev. Stat. §§ 5029 and 5030) provide for giving of notice of election and for the procedure to be followed.  The use of the special meeting would afford you a reasonably prompt solution for your situation.

             From the foregoing observations, it is our opinion that the directors of the Marlin School District have a right to convey the schoolhouse and land to the Ruff Fire District for a nominal consideration if so authorized by the vote of the electors of this district.  This vote may be given at a proper election or at a special meeting as provided by RCW 28.58.370, 28.58.380 and 28.58.390.

 Very truly yours,
DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General 

PHYLLIS DOLVIN
Assistant Attorney General

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