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March 27, 1970
Honorable Harold S. Zimmerman
State Representative, 17th District
1432 N.E. 6th Avenue
Camas, Washington 98607
Cite as: AGLO 1970 No. 48
This is written in response to your recent request for our opinion as to the authority of two school district boards of directors to enter into a contract under which one of the two districts would own and operate a system of school buses for the transportation of pupils attending schools in both of the two districts.
In our opinion, ample authority for an agreement such as you have described has been granted to school districts by virtue of their having been included (pursuant to chapter 40, Laws of 1969) within the coverage of the interlocal cooperation act ‑ chapter 239, Laws of 1967 (chapter 39.34 RCW). Furthermore, although it might be possible in the alternative, to find a legal basis for such an agreement as you have described under § 6, chapter 130, Laws of 1969 (Senate Bill No. 308) relating to school district cooperation, we believe that the aforementioned interlocal cooperation act provides the better vehicle for this sort of an agreement.
We are enclosing herewith a xerox copy of the RCW chapter codifying this act for your immediate reference and use in discussing the matter with the school officials who have come to you for assistance. We would draw your particular attention to RCW 39.34.030 (codifying § 4 of the act) which not only grants the basic substantive authority to public agencies to enter into agreements for joint or cooperative action, but also sets forth in detail the specifications as to what any such agreements should contain ‑ including, notably, a provision as to the agreed upon duration of the contract.
Of course, it is apparent that the agreement in question would remain a viable contract only so long as [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] both of the school districts which entered into it remain in active operation. Obviously, if at sometime in the future the two school districts in question were to be consolidated, the purpose and function of the agreement would no longer exist. And, of course, no legal assurance can be given to either of the two districts that consolidation will not take place at sometime in the future. Nor, by the same token, can any legal assurance be given at this time with respect to the practical impact of consolidation upon any of the existing facilities of the two districts. These are all matters over which the legislature retains control through its promulgation of the laws governing the general subject of school district consolidation, the present versions of which are codified in chapter 28.57 RCW.
It is hoped that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Philip H. Austin
Assistant Attorney General