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AGO 1960 No. 104 - February 29, 1960
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

SCHOOLS - NONHIGH DISTRICT - EXCESS LEVY TO PARTICIPATE WITH HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT IN FINANCING SCHOOL FACILITIES.

A nonhigh school district which desires to participate with a high school district in financing school facilities and which elects to secure the funds therefor by an excess tax levy under chapter 262, Laws of 1959, is not required to provide in the proposition submitted to the electors for the immediate expenditure of the fund.

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                                                                February 29, 1960

Honorable John G. McCutcheon
Prosecuting Attorney
County-City Building
Tacoma, Washington                                                                                       Cite as:  AGO 59-60 No. 104

Dear Sir:

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

            Is a nonhigh school district which desires to participate with a high school district in financing school facilities and which elects to secure the funds therefor by an excess tax levy under chapter 262, Laws of 1959 (RCW 28.56.010et seq.) required to provide, in the proposition submitted to the electors at a general or special election, for the immediate expenditure of the funds?

            We answer the question in the negative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            You have advised us of the following facts giving rise to your request:  That on January 5, 1960, Firwood School District 99, Pierce county, a nonhigh school district, authorized, at a special election, the imposition of an excess tax levy for the purpose of participating with the Fife School District in financing a "cafetorium" [[cafeteria]]and band room; that the proposition submitted to the electors of the district did not provide for the immediate expenditure of the funds; that the directors in the Firwood School District are concerned as to the validity of the election  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] because the ballot did not contain the phrase "and the proceeds thereof used immediately through incurring an indebtedness against the district by the issuance of warrants against the general fund of the district;" that the directors do not feel that under chapter 262, Laws of 1959 (RCW 28.56.010 et seq.) they arerequired to provide the funds to the Fife School District until after the levy is made and the funds to be derived therefrom are collected.

            The legislature has specifically prescribed the procedure to be followed in the development, preparation and approval of a plan whereby a nonhigh school district is authorized to provide capital funds in aid of the high school district in which its high school students are being educated.  Chapter 262, Laws of 1959 (RCW 28.56.010et seq.).  While it is not necessary for us to discuss in detail the various provisions of the act in order to answer the question you have submitted, we feel it should be pointed out that the responsibility for the formation of the participating plan lies with the local county committee on school district organization after a request has been submitted to it by a school district concerned.  RCW 28.56.010.  A public hearing on the proposed plan is required (RCW 28.56.030) after which, the plan must be presented to the State Board of Education for approval.  RCW 28.56.040.

            If the plan is approved, RCW 28.56.050 provides:

            "Within sixty days after receipt of the notice of approval from the county superintendent, the board of directors of each school district included in the plan shall submit to the voters thereof a proposal or proposals for providing, through the issuance of bonds and/or the authorization of an excess tax levy, the amount of capital funds that the district is required to provide under the plan.  The proceeds of any such bond issue and/or excess tax levy shall be credited to the building fund of the school district in which the proposed high school facilities are to be located and shall be expended to pay the cost of high school facilities for the education of such students residing in the school districts as are included in the plan and not otherwise."  (Emphasis supplied)

            RCW 28.56.075 provides, as follows:

            "If the voters of a nonhigh school district approve an excess tax levy, the levy shall be made at the earliest time permitted by law.  If the voters of a  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] nonhigh school district approve the issuance of bonds, the board of directors of the nonhigh school district shall issue and sell said bonds within ninety days after receiving a copy of a resolution of the board of directors of the high school district that the high school district is ready to proceed with the construction of the high school facilities provided for in the plan and requesting the sale of the bonds."  (Emphasis supplied)

            It is an oft-quoted rule of statutory construction that, in construing a statute, legislative intent must be gleaned from a consideration of the whole act and that the court will not place a narrow, literal and technical construction upon only a part of the statute and ignore other relevant parts.  DeGrief v. Seattle, 50 Wn. (2d) 1, 297 P. (2d) 940 (1956); State v. Rinkes, 49 Wn. (2d) 664, 306 P. (2d) 205 (1956).  Furthermore, where a statute is plain and unambiguous, it furnishes a rule of construction beyond which the court cannot go.  SeeParkhurst v. Everett, 51 Wn. (2d) 292, 318 P. (2d) 327 (1957);In re Baker's Estate, 49 Wn. (2d) 609, 304 P. (2d) 1051 (1956).

            From a reading of the above statutes, it is apparent, we believe, that the board of directors of a nonhigh school district has been vested with the power by the legislature to determine, in the sound exercise of its discretion, the method of securing the capital funds required under a plan approved by the State Board of Education.  If it elects to provide the funds by an excess tax levy, rather than by issuing bonds, and the proposition is approved by the required vote of the electors (SeeSeattle School District No. 1 v. Howard Odell, 154 Wash. Dec. 874 [[54 Wn. 2d 728]], 344 P. (2d) 715 (1959)) the legislature has expressly directed that the "levy shall be made at the earliest time permitted by law."  RCW 28.56.075,supra.  However, there is no requirement or provision whereby the nonhigh school district is directed to make the funds available to the high school district prior to the time that they would otherwise be collected after the levy is made.

            Accordingly, it is our opinion that the board of directors of a nonhigh school district may, but is not required under chapter 262, Laws of 1959 (RCW 28.56.010et seq.), to provide for the immediate expenditure of funds to be derived from an excess levy for the purposes stated above.  However,unless otherwise provided, the proceeds of the excess levy will not be available to the high school district until after the levy is made.  We believe the facts in each case will dictate the course of action the board of directors will elect to follow.  From what we have said, it is evident that the failure to include a phrase in the ballot proposition asking authorization to expend funds immediately, does not in any way affect the validity of the election held in the Firwood School District.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            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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