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AGO 1961 No. 49 - July 26, 1961
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

DISTRICTS ‑- SCHOOLS ‑- BOARDS OF DIRECTORS ‑- POWERS AND DUTIES ‑- AUTHORITY GRANTED BY 1961 COMMUNITY COLLEGE ACT

None of the provisions of chapter 198, Laws of 1961, and chapter 20, Laws of 1961, Ex. Sess., authorizing "community colleges" applies to any school district presently operating an extended secondary program (so-called junior colleges) which does not elect to bring its program within the new legislation.

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July 26, 1961

Honorable Louis Bruno
President, State Board of Education
Old Capitol Building
Olympia, Washington

Cite as: AGO 61-62 No. 49 

Dear Sir:

             By letter previously acknowledged you requested an opinion of this office on the following question:

             Do the provisions of chapter 198, Laws of 1961, and chapter 20, Laws of 1961, Ex. Sess. apply to and govern the operation of extended secondary schools (commonly referred to as junior colleges) which do not elect to convert to community colleges?

             We answer your question in the negative.

ANALYSIS

             During its recent session the legislature passed two acts relating to the establishment, operation and administration of community colleges in this state. Chapter 198, Laws of 1961, and chapter 20, Laws of 1961, Ex. Sess. Under the provisions of these acts specific powers and duties are imposed on the board of directors of any school district authorized by the state board of education to operate a community college. For the purpose of this opinion, it is not necessary to discuss the extensive provisions of the acts in question. Suffice it to say it is quite clear, from the express language of the legislation, that the provisions thereof are only applicable to districts operating community colleges.

[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

             Although the legislature only authorized the state board of education to establish two new community colleges, provision was made whereby certain districts may bring their existing schools within the purview of the new law. Section 11, chapter 198, Laws of 1961, provides as follows:

"Upon a written application signed by the board of directors of a school district now operating existing extended secondary schools under the provisions of RCW 28.84.120 through RCW 28.84.150 commonly referred to as: (1) Centralia Junior College, (2) Clark College, (3) Columbia Basin College, (4) Everett Junior College, (5) Grays Harbor College, (6) Lower Columbia Junior College, (7) Olympic College, (8) Skagit Valley College, (9) Wenatchee Valley College, (10) Yakima Valley Junior College, and (11) Peninsula College, the state board of education may authorize the district to discontinue said program and in lieu thereof establish a community college as provided in this act.   Nothing in this act should, however, be construed as authorizing more than two additional new community colleges." (Emphasis supplied.)

             It is a well-established rule of statutory construction that legislative intent is to be determined from reading the act itself, construing the provisions therein according to their ordinary meaning, and giving consideration to the purposes and objects sought to be accomplished by the legislative enactment.  State ex rel. State Employees' Retirement Board v. Yelle, 31 Wn. (2d) 87, 195 P. (2d) 646, 201 P. (2d) 172 (1948).

             Under the express language of the foregoing statute, the boards of directors of school districts operating extended secondary schools under the provisions of RCW 28.84.120 through RCW 28.84.150 are authorized to file an application with the state board of education to discontinue their existing programs and in lieu thereof to establish a community college as provided in chapter 198. It is quite apparent from a reading of chapter 198 and chapter 20, supra, that none of the provisions of these acts apply to or govern the operation or administration of extended secondary schools unless such schools are brought within the provisions thereof by an application filed in compliance with § 11, supra. In other words, no power or authority is granted nor any duties or responsibilities imposed upon a school [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] district by virtue of the action of the 1961 legislature unless the board of directors governing the district elects to come within the provisions thereof.

             We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

ROBET J. DORAN
Assistant Attorney General

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