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AGLO 1974 No. 63 -
Attorney General Slade Gorton


The board of directors of an intermediate school district does not have the authority to invest or to authorize its county treasurer to invest funds which it receives from the state for distribution to local school districts under RCW 28A.48.010.

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                                                                     July 1, 1974

Honorable Donald C. Brockett
Prosecuting Attorney
Spokane County
County-City Public Safety Building
West 1100 Mallon Avenue
Spokane, Washington 99201                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1974 No. 63

Attention:  !ttMr. James P. Emacio
            Deputy Prosecuting Attorney
Dear Sir:
            By recent letter you have requested our opinion on a question which we paraphrase as follows:
            Does the board of directors of an intermediate school district have the authority to invest or to authorize its county treasurer to invest funds which it receives from the state for distribution to local school districts under RCW 28A.48.010, et seq.?
            We believe that this question must be answered in the negative.
            As previously indicated in AGLO 1974 No. 48 [[to Robert K. Leick, Prosecuting Attorney, Skamania County on April 16, 1974 an Informal Opinion AIR-74548]], copy enclosed, intermediate school districts are statutorily created political subdivisions of the state.  As such, they are subject to the basic principle that political subdivisions may exercise only those powers expressly granted them by the legislature, those necessarily or fairly implied or incident to the powers granted, and those essential to the declared objects and purposes of such subdivisions.  Pacific Etc. Ass'n v. Pierce County, 27 Wn.2d 347, 178 P.2d 351 (1947), and cases cited therein.
            Our examination of the statutes relating to this particular category of political subdivisions, as generally set forth in chapter 28A.21 RCW, reveals no  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] authorization for the investment of any funds held by an intermediate school district ‑ whether they are its own funds or state moneys which it holds for distribution to local school districts under the statutes cited in your question, RCW 28A.48.010, et seq.  Nor do we believe that the requisite authority for an affirmative answer to your question may be found in RCW 36.29.020, a statute relating to the investment of municipal funds by county treasurers which is cited in one of the enclosures you have sent us with your letter.  Insofar as material, this statute provides that:
            ". . .  Any municipal corporation may by action of its governing body authorize any of its funds which are in the custody of the county treasurer or other municipal corporation treasurer, to be invested by such treasurer in . . ."
            a designated list of categories of investments.
            We have little doubt as to the applicability of this statute to the funds of an intermediate school district (i.e., its own funds) that are held by ". . . the county treasurer of the county in which the intermediate school district headquarters office is located . . ." as provided in RCW 28A.21.160 and 28A.21.200.  Our essential reason for answering your question in the negative, however, is that the state funds to which it refers do not, at any point along their route from the state to the local school districts to which they are apportioned, become moneys belonging to an intermediate school district.
            RCW 28A.48.010 provides that:
            "On or before the last business day of September 1969 and each month thereafter, the superintendent of public instruction shall apportion from the current state school fund and/or the state general fund to the several intermediate school districts of the state the proportional share of the total annual amount due and apportionable  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] to such intermediate school districts for the school districts thereof as follows:
            "September                                          10%
            "October                                                8%
            "November                                          6.5%
            "December                                           8.5%
            "January                                              13%
            "February                                             13%
            "March                                                   11%
            "April                                                      5%
            "May                                                        5%
            "June                                                       3%
            "July                                                        8.5%
            "August                                                   8.5%"
            RCW 28A.48.030 then states that:
            "Upon receiving the certificate of apportionment from the superintendent of public instruction the intermediate school district superintendent shall promptly apportion to the school districts of his intermediate school district the amounts then due and apportionable to such districts as certified by the superintendent of public instruction.  The intermediate school district superintendent shall apportion to the school districts of his intermediate school district during each of the twelve months of the year the amount then available for apportionment to such districts from the intermediate school district current school fund."
            From these two provisions it appears to us that as to these moneys the various intermediate school districts are merely conduits between the state and the recipient common school districts.  The basic function being served by each such intermediate district is simply that of agent for the state in the distribution process, and thus the funds never became those of the intermediate district for the purposes of investment at the discretion of its governing body under RCW 36.29.020, supra.
            Once distributed to the school districts, of course, the funds will be available for investment at the direction  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] of the boards of those districts under another statute, RCW 28A.58.440, which deals with the investment of school district funds.  For this reason, one obvious approach to the problem giving rise to your inquiry would be for the various intermediate districts involved simply to move as rapidly as possible in getting the funds into the hands of the school districts for whose support they are intended, thereby shortening the period during which no investments can be made to the greatest possible extent.  Alternatively, the enactment of some form of amendatory legislation would appear to be called for.
            We trust the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
Attorney General
Assistant Attorney General