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AGO 1952 No. 390 - August 29, 1952
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

SCHOOL DISTRICTS ‑- CONSOLIDATION ‑- TRANSFER OF TITLE TO SCHOOL PROPERTY

Upon consolidation of one school district with another title to the school property of the old district vests automatically in the new district without the necessity of execution of a deed by the old district to the new.

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                                                                 August 29, 1952

Honorable Don Abel
Prosecuting Attorney
Grays Harbor County
Aberdeen, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 390

Dear Sir:

            We have your request for an opinion asking whether it is necessary that a deed be executed of its land by a school district which is being consolidated into a new district to accomplish a transfer of the school land to the new district under consolidation proceedings pursuant to chapter RCW 28.57 [[chapter 28.57 RCW]].  You further ask what procedure we advise should the "losing" district refuse to execute a deed to the land.

            Our conclusion is that when a school district is consolidated into another district, or a new district is created which includes former districts, the title to school property of the former district vests in the new district by operation of law and a deed running from the old to the new district is unnecessary.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            You relate:

            "Some years prior to 1948 Malone School District was consolidated with Porter School District; the new district being designated No. 116.  In 1948 under the County reorganization board, the area formerly known as Malone District, or at least a  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] part thereof, was transferred to Elma District No. 118.  Apparently all of the steps required by RCW 28.57 [[chapter 28.57 RCW]]were properly carried out.

            "The recommendations of the reorganization board transferred all the School District property of No. 116 to No. 118.  No. 118 has attempted to sell the real property but has been unable to obtain insurable title.  The title insurance company contends that RCW 28-57 [[chapter 28.57 RCW]]does not accomplish a transfer of real estate."

            It is well settled that the legislature may provide for the dissolution, annexation or consolidation of municipal corporations.  Upon consolidation or annexation of one municipal corporation to another the legislature may provide that the property of the former municipal corporation is vested in and becomes the property of the new corporation.  This can be done with or without the consent of the residents of either municipal corporation affected.  When the legislature annexes one municipal corporation to another or when such an annexation is accomplished pursuant to legislative authority, the property of the corporation annexed vests ipso facto in the consolidated municipality whether or not such a result is stipulated in the legislative act.  Wheeler School District v. Hawley, 18 Wn. (2d) 37, 137 P. (2d) 1010 (1943);Forsyth v. Seattle, 73 Wash. 515, 132 Pac. 324 (1913);Mt. Pleasant v. Beckwith, 100 U.S. 514, 25 Law Ed. 699 (1879); School District v. School District of Joplin, 340 Mo. 779, 102 S.W. (2d) 909 (1937) 121 A.L.R. 836; 2 McQuillin, Municipal Corporations § 816.

            School districts are municipal or quasi-municipal corporations,Juntilla v. Everett School District, 178 Wash. 637, 35 P. (2d) 78 (1934), consequently they are governed by the above general principles.

            The legislature in section 7 of the 1947 act relating to consolidation of school districts has provided that the property of districts affected by changes shall be adjusted equitably among the old and new districts, if any, except that all the property of the old district shall vest in the new, where all the territory of the old district is annexed.  That provision is codified in RCW 28.57.210 and reads as follows:

            "The fact of the issuance of bonds by a school district, heretofore or hereafter, shall not prevent changes in the organization and extent of school districts, regardless of whether or not such bonds  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] or any part thereof are outstanding at the time.  In case of any such change (1) the bonded indebtedness outstanding against any school district involved in or affected by such change shall be adjusted equitably among the old school districts and the new district or districts, if any, involved or affected; and (2) the property and other assets and the liabilities other than bonded indebtedness of any school district involved in or affected by any such change shall also be adjusted in the same manner and to the effect herein provided, except that, when all the territory of an old school district is included in a single new district or is annexed to a single existing district, the title to the property and other assets and the liabilities other than bonded indebtedness of such old district shall vest in and become the assets and liabilities of the new district or of the existing district as the case may be."

            The result of the act where a consolidation has proceeded validly under it is to vest title by operation of the statute in the new district.  Where the proposed plan has been voted on and accepted by the electorate the county superintendent of schools shall "* * * order effected such other terms of adjustment, if there be any, of property and other assets and of liabilities other than bonded indebtedness as have been approved by the county committee; * * *" RCW 28.57.090.  The county superintendent then certifies this action to the county auditor and other county officials.  The execution of a deed by the former directors of the old district of its property would be mere surplusage.  The title to the property passes when the provisions of the act have been complied with.  Those activities in and of themselves effect the conveyance of the property.

            In answer to your second inquiry we believe an action to quiet title to the property in Elma District No. 118 would result in a judgment which would satisfy the title company should it still persist in its present thinking.  You infer that the Malone district still exists since you contemplate the possibility of its refusal to execute a deed.  Of course, if the district has been completely consolidated into another district, its existence having ceased there can now be  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] no officers who could act for it and execute such a deed.  If, however, as you infer, a Malone district still exists, we can see no harm in the execution of a quit claim deed by its directors of the property, title to which is already vested in the Elma district.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

FRED L. HARLOCKER
Assistant Attorney General

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