STUDENT BODY FUNDS. DUTY OF STATE AUDITOR TO EXAMINE.
It is not incumbent upon the state auditor to examine student body accounts but the Division of Municipal Corporations of the state auditor's office may accept the audit of such funds made by a qualified individual or firm appointed by the school authorities.
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February 27, 1953
Honorable Cliff Yelle
Olympia, Washington Cite as: AGO 51-53 No. 484
Attention: !ttMr. A. E. Hankins, Chief Examiner
We have your letter in which you inquire:
(1) Whether or not it is the duty of the state auditor when examining the accounts of school districts, to also examine the accounts of student body funds of such districts; and
(2) Whether or not the Division of Municipal Corporations may accept the audit of such funds when such audit is paid for by the student body and made by an individual or group of individuals appointed by the school authorities.
It is our conclusion that your first question should be answered no, and your second question, yes.
Previous opinions of this office have held:
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
(1) Student body funds derived from athletic contests, programs, and entertainments are not school district funds.
(2) Football and basketball equipment, other than equipment required for school courses, may not be purchased with school district funds. The same rule has been applied to band uniforms and bus drivers' uniforms.
(3) Student body funds should be kept in a separate bank account outside the county treasurer's office. Said funds are not in any way subject to the provisions of law relating to school district funds.
We are not unmindful that this office had held it to be the duty of the duly authorized officials of the state to audit and inspect the books of the Associated Students of the University of Washington, but it does not necessarily follow that the same rule applies to student body funds in our public high schools. While it is true that the high school student associations bear approximately the same relation to their respective school districts as the ASUW bears to the University of Washington, there are significant differences which should be recognized. An undergraduate student at the University of Washington is required, by action of the Board of Regents, to pay a special tuition fee which augments the ASUW fund. This is authorized by RCW 28.77.040, subsection (3). RCW 28.77.050 requires that these funds shall be held by the Board of Regents as a revolving fund and expended for the purpose for which collected and be accounted for in accordance with existing law. There is no corresponding statute which applies to student body funds. Membership in a high school student association is on a voluntary rather than a compulsory basis.
RCW 43.09.280 provides that the expense of the examination of books by the state authorities shall be paid by the respective taxing districts. Since the student body funds are employed to foster activities for which school district funds are not available, it would be inconsistent to require that the respective school districts should be compelled to pay for the audit of those funds.
It is our conclusion that in the absence of legislation defining student body fund as a public account, that it is not incumbent upon the state auditor's office to examine these accounts, and that it may accept the audit of such funds made by a qualified individual or firm appointed by the school authorities. Any opinion of this office in conflict herewith is hereby overruled.
Very truly yours,
Assistant Attorney General