Navigation Top
AGO Logo Graphic
AGO Header Image
File a Complaint
Contact the AGO
AGO 1964 No. 111 - June 30, 1964
AGO Opinion Header Image
John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington


Neither RCW 28.58.100 (5) nor RCW 28.58.050 (now RCW 28.58.048) prevents a school district from leasing to a private individual an old house situated on school property where such property is not presently required for school purposes.

                                                              - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                   June 30, 1964

Honorable Charles O. Carroll
Prosecuting Attorney
King County
King County Court House
Seattle 4, Washington

                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 63-64 No. 111

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged, you have requested an opinion of this office upon a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            Does either RCW 28.58.100 (5) or RCW 28.58.050 (now RCW 28.58.048) prevent a school district from leasing to a private individual an old house situated on school property?

            We answer your question in the negative.


            As you are aware this office has advised on several occasions that the power to lease is to be implied from the express powers granted to all school districts to sell property of the district not presently required for school purposes.  See, AGO 61-62 No. 160; AGO dated February 24, 1959, to the Honorable Lloyd J. Andrews, Superintendent of Public Instruction; AGO dated November 14, 1951, to the Honorable John Panesko, Prosecuting Attorney of Lewis County; and AGO dated September 26, 1929, to G. E. Clark, Prosecuting Attorney for Yakima County.

            We believe that these opinions are correct and that neither RCW 28.58.100 (5) nor RCW 28.58.050 (now RCW 28.58.048) dictates a different conclusion.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            The first of these statutes, RCW 28.58.100 (5) provides:

            "Every board of directors, unless otherwise specially provided by law, shall:

            "(5) Purchase personal property in the name of the district and receive, lease, issue and hold for their district real and personal property;"

            We view this statute as being limited to situations where the district is leasing propertyfrom someone.  We do not think that this affects the implication that property can be leasedto an individual.  This statute is simply not applicable to the situation under consideration.

            RCW 28.58.048, the second statute you have mentioned, provides:

            "Boards of directors of school districts in the state of Washington are hereby authorized to permit the use of, and to rent school playgrounds and/or athletic fields appurtenant or adjacent to any schoolhouse or school building by, or to, any person or corporation for baseball, football, or any other athletic contests and events, or other athletic purposes, when school is not in session, or when such fields are not used for a public purpose."

            You have suggested that this specific grant of power to rent playfields should be taken as a restriction upon the general power to lease to the extent of the specific enumeration.  In this connection you have cited Miller v. Pasco, 50 Wn. (2d) 229, 310 P. (2d) 863 (1957).

            In theMiller case, supra, the court was faced with the question of a municipal corporation leasing certain property to an individual.  The court concluded that the lease was beyond the power of the city, reasoning as follows:

            "Is the power to lease municipally-owned real estate for parking lot purposes  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] granted to cities of the third class by RCW 35.24.300,supra?  The section provides in part:

            "'The city council of such city shall have power to purchase, lease, or otherwise acquire real estate and personal property necessary or proper for municipal purposes and to control, lease, sublease, convey, or otherwise dispose of the same; to acquire and plat land for cemeteries and parks and provide for the regulation thereof; to lease any water front and other lands adjacent thereto owned by it for manufacturing, commercial or other business purposes; to lease for wharf, dock and other purposes of navigation and commerce such portions of its streets which bound upon or terminate in its waterfront or the navigable waters of such city, subject, however, to the written consent of the lessees of a majority of the square feet frontage of the harbor area abutting on any street proposed to be so leased.'

            "Two rules of statutory construction, to which we have uniformly adhered, apply to the issue presented by this proceeding: (1) that each and every section of a legislative enactment must be given meaning, and (2) where general powers are granted with specific powers enumerated, the general powers are modified, limited, and restricted to the extent of the specific enumeration.  Groves v. Meyers, 35 Wn. (2d) 403, 213 P. (2d) 483 (1950); State v. Thompson, 38 Wn. (2d) 774, 232 P. (2d) 87 (1951);Public Hospital Dist. No. 2 of Okanogan County v. Taxpayers of Public Hospital Dist. No. 2 of Okanogan County, 44 Wn. (2d) 623, 269 P. (2d) 594 (1954); 50 Am.Jur. 244, § 249; 82 C.J.S. 658, § 332.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            "If, as appellant contends, cities of the third class, by RCW 35.24.300,supra, havegeneral power to lease, sublease, convey or otherwise dispose of their real estate, then the remainder of the quoted portion of the section, which authorizes specific types of leases, is surplusage and meaningless.  By this section, the power of a city of the third class to lease its municipally-owned lands is limited to (1) waterfront property to be used for the purposes of manufacturing, etc., and (2) property to be used for wharves, docks, and other navigation purposes.

            "The legislative grant to lease municipally-owned property, as provided by RCW 35.24.300,supra, is ambiguous and requires judicial interpretation.  Thegeneral and specific powers above enumerated are all contained in a single sentence.  In order to give the entire sentence meaning and to retain the limited types of leases which the legislature specifically authorized cities of the third class to execute, the general grant of power must yield in its scope to the specific powers enumerated.

            "For the reasons stated, the authority to lease municipally-owned property for the purpose of establishing a parking lot is not conferred upon cities of the third class by RCW 35.24.300, supra.  The trial court did not err in its determination that the city should be enjoined from leasing the property involved in this proceeding."

            Thus, the statute involved in Miller v. Pasco, supra, specifically gave the city the power tolease but then itself enumerated several types of leases into which the city could enter.  Here by way of contrast we have a statute which does not grant the general power tolease.  Rather, it allows school districts torent their athletic fields only under specific circumstances.  Clearly the rule ofMiller v. Pasco, supra, is not applicable to a situation where there has been  [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] no general grant of power coupled in the same statute with a specific enumeration.

            This point is made quite clear when it is noted that RCW 28.58.048,supra, was enacted as § 1, chapter 99, Laws of 1935.  Section 3 of this same act provides:

            "The powers herein conferred on the board of school directors shall be in addition to other powers conferred by law and vested in such boards of school directors."

            Obviously, the legislature wished to make it clear that chapter 99, Laws of 1935, was not meant to limit by implication the general powers of school districts but was passed to cover a special situation.

            Thus it is our conclusion that neither RCW 28.58.100 (5) nor RCW 28.58.048 prevents a school district from leasing to a private individual an old house situated on school property.

            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

Content Bottom Graphic
AGO Logo