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July 28, 1972
Honorable E. R. Witmore, Jr.
Chelan County Court House
Wenatchee, Washington 98801
Cite as: AGLO 1972 No. 57 (not official)
This is written in response to your recent letter requesting our opinion on the following question:
"May the board of directors of a second class school district sell and convey real property which is no longer needed for school district purposes and which has a value of in excess of $35,000 upon a privately negotiated sale without submitting the question of the sale thereof to a vote of the voters of the district?"
We believe that the question must be answered in the negative. RCW 28A.58.040 provides that:
"The board of directors of each school district shall have exclusive control of all school property, real or personal, belonging to the district; said board shall have power, subject to RCW 28A.58.045, in the name of the district, to convey by deed all the interest of their district in or to any real property of the district which is no longer required for school purposes. . . ."
Thus, the general authority of a school board to dispose of real property which is no longer required for school purposes is not absolute but is qualified by another statute, RCW 28A.58.045, the full text of which reads as follows:
"The board of directors of any school district of this state may:
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
"(1) Sell for cash, at public or private sale, and convey by deed all interest of the district in or to any of the real property of the district which is no longer required for school purposes if the value thereof is thirty-five thousand dollars or less; and
"(2) Purchase real property for the purpose of locating thereon and affixing thereto any house or houses and appurtenant buildings removed from school sites owned by the district and sell for cash, at public or private sale, and convey by deed all interest of the district in or to such acquired and improved real property if the value of any single parcel thereof is thirty-five thousand dollars or less; and is at least equal in funds received to ninety percent of the relocated value thereof: Provided, however, That prior to selling any of such real property of the district the board of directors shall appoint three licensed real estate brokers who shall appraise the real property to be sold, and such real property shall not be sold for less than ninety percent of the appraised value thereof.
"If the value of any such parcel of real property is found by the board of directors to be greater than thirty-five thousand dollars, the question of the sale thereof shall be submitted to a vote of the voters of the district, either at a general or special election called for that purpose. If a majority of the votes case thereat favor the sale of such real property the board may make the sale. The sale must be made at public auction for cash and good title shall be conveyed by deed of the school district, executed by the president or the vice president and the secretary of the board."
As we read it, this statute distinguishes between surplus school district property having a value of $35,000 or less and that having a value in excess of this amount. Only when the surplus property to be disposed of has a value [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] of $35,000 or less may it be sold privately under the provisions of either subsection (1) or (2). Accord, AGO 53-55 No. 266 [[to John C. Merkel, Prosecuting Attorney Kitsap County, June 3, 1954]], copy enclosed.
Conversely, where such property (as in the case described in your letter) is found by the board to have a value in in excess of $35,000 it can only be sold publicly, and then only after voter approval of the sale has been obtained under the final paragraph of the statute.
We trust the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
Richard M. Montecucco
Assistant Attorney General