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AGO 1961 No. 68 - October 03, 1961
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington


DISTRICTS ‑- SCHOOLS ‑- BOARD OF DIRECTORS ‑- INVESTMENT OF FUNDS.

Under chapter 123, Laws of 1961, the board of directors of a school district has the power to authorize the county treasurer or other custodian of any school funds to invest such funds which may be lawfully invested or reinvested and which in the judgment of the board are not required for the immediate necessity of the district.

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                                                                 October 3, 1961

Honorable Ray E. Munson
Prosecuting Attorney
Yakima CountyCourt House
Yakima, Washington

                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 61-62 No. 68

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged you requested an opinion of this office on the following question concerning the investment of school district funds:

            "Does Chapter 123, Laws of 1961 increase the source of school funds that may be invested?"

            We answer this question in the affirmative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            At its last session, our legislature passed chapter 123, Laws of 1961, which is an act relating "to school district funds and the investment and reinvestment thereof."  Section 1 of this act reads as follows:

            "The county treasurer, or the trustee, guardian, or any other custodian ofany school fund shall, when authorized to do so by the board of directors of any school district, invest or reinvest any school funds of such district in any obligations, securities, certificates, notes, bonds, or short term securities or obligations, of the United States.  The county treasurer  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] shall have the power to select the particular investment in which said funds may be invested.  All earnings and income from such investments shall inure to the benefit ofany school fund designated by the board of directors of the school district which such board may lawfully designate: PROVIDED, That any interest or earnings being credited to a fund different from that which earned the interest or earnings shall only be expended for instructional supplies, equipment or capital outlay purposes.  This section shall apply to all funds which may be lawfully so invested or reinvested which in the judgment of the school board are not required for the immediate necessities of the district."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            It is elementary that the sole purpose of interpreting or construing a statute is to ascertain and give effect to the intent of the legislature.  Cory v. Nethery, 19 Wn. (2d) 326, 142 P. (2d) 488 (1943).  In arriving at legislative intent, the first resort of the court is to the context and subject matter of the legislation because the intention of the lawmakers is to be deduced if possible from the words used.  Hatzenbuhler v. Harrison, 49 Wn. (2d) 691, 306 P. (2d) 745 (1957),Guinness v. State, 40 Wn. (2d) 677, 246 P. (2d) 433 (1952).

            Applying these rules, it is our opinion that the legislature, by the enactment of the above statute, has expressly granted to the board of directors of any school district, the power to authorize the county treasurer, or other custodian of any school funds, to invest such funds which may be lawfully invested or reinvested and which, in the judgment of the school board, are not required for the immediate necessities of the district.

            In your letter you mentioned AGO 59-60 No. 129 [[to Prosecuting Attorney, Lewis County on July 1, 1960]], which was written to the prosecuting attorney of Lewis county on July 1, 1960, concerning the then existing power of a school district in respect to the investment of certain school funds.  We think it is quite clear from the wording of the above act that the legislature was cognizant of the limitations upon the investment power of the board of directors of a school district, as discussed in the opinion, and intended by the enactment of chapter 123,supra, to remove some of the restrictions noted by expanding the otherwise limited power of the board to invest  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] school funds.

            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

ROBERT J. DORAN
Assistant Attorney General

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