AGO 1956 No. 182 - May 1 1956
WOULD AN EXPENSE CLAIM FOR MILEAGE INCURRED BY A SCHOOL PRINCIPAL IN TRAVELING TO AND FROM A DISTRICT CONFERENCE OF SCHOOL OFFICIALS, HELD FOR THE PURPOSE OF ESTABLISHING A SCHEDULE OF BASKETBALL GAMES AND RULES FOR ELIGIBILITY OF PLAYERS, WHICH HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN ALLOWED AND APPROVED BY THE SCHOOL BOARD, BE A LEGALLY VALID CHARGE AGAINST SCHOOL DISTRICT FUNDS?
The claim for reimbursement of actual expenses incurred by a school principal at a district conference is a legally valid claim upon school district funds under the provisions of RCW 28.58.310 and as a public school purpose.
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January 5, 1956
Honorable Willard A. Zellmer
Davenport, Washington Cite as: AGO 55-57 No. 182
We have for reply your inquiry of December 23, 1955, which has been previously acknowledged.
You have requested our opinion upon a question which may be stated in substance as follows:
Would an expense claim for mileage incurred by a school principal in traveling to and from a district conference of school officials, held for the purpose of establishing a schedule of basketball games and rules for eligibility of players, which had previously been allowed and approved by the school board, be a legally valid charge against school district funds?
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
It is a general proposition of law that a school district is a municipal corporation, created by the legislature as an arm of the state for the administration of the common school system. As a municipal corporation it possesses and can exercise the following powers, and no others: First, those granted in express words by the legislature; second, those necessarily or fairly implied in or incident to the powers expressly granted; third, those essential to the declared objects and purposes of the corporation‑-not simply convenient but indispensable. State ex rel. Windsor v. Mayor and Council of Ballard, 10 Wash. 4, 38 Pac. 761;McGilvra v. Seattle School District No. 1, 113 Wash. 619, 194 Pac. 817.
The subject of the reimbursement of expenses of school board directors, superintendents and other school representatives is found in our law at section 6, chapter 90, Laws of 1919, which in somewhat different language is also set forth at RCW 28.58.310. Section 6, chapter 90, Laws of 1919, provides in part:
"* * * the actual expenses of directors incurred in going to and returning from and while in attendance upon any directors' meeting or other meeting called or held in compliance with this code, also like expenses of superintendentsor other school representatives, chosen by the directorsattending any conferences or meetings or upon anyurgent school business, called by the state superintendent or authorized by the directors, may be paid by the district." (Emphasis supplied.)
Manifestly, the above‑quoted provision of the law authorizes the payment from school district funds of the actual expenses "of superintendents or other" chosen school representatives; which would include a school principal, "when attending any conferences or meetings or upon any urgent school business" when "authorized by the directors."
The stated fact that the voucher for the mileage expense of the principal was allowed and approved by the school district board of directors necessitates the presumption that the expense was authorized as urgent school business, or [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] that the principal was a chosen representative for the purpose of the meeting. Therefore, it would appear that the situation which you present is in conformance with the requirements of the above‑quoted statute.
Although the terms of the above‑quoted statute are quite broad, the authority of the board of directors of the school district would not be so extensive thereunder as to authorize the reimbursement of expenses which were not expended in the furtherance of a public school purpose.
Our supreme court has several times ruled that physical education and recreation is a public school function. State ex rel. School District No. 56 v. Superior Court, 69 Wash. 189, 124 Pac. 484;Sorenson v. Perkins & Co., 72 Wash. 16, 129 Pac. 577;McGilvra v. Seattle School District No. 1, 113 Wash. 619, 194 Pac. 817;Howard v. Tacoma School District No. 10, 88 Wash. 167, 152 Pac. 1004. Also, see RCW 28.05.030, 28.05.040 and chapter 28.14 RCW.
The fact that physical education and recreation in our public schools has, as an incident thereof, given rise to scheduled athletic contests between schools, requiring the promulgation of rules and regulations for their proper supervision, does not deprive them of recognition as public school functions.
Therefore, in our opinion the claim for reimbursement of actual expenses incurred by the school principal at a district conference for the stated purposes, is a legally valid claim upon the school district expense budget under the provisions of the above‑quoted statute and as a public school purpose.
Very truly yours,
STEPHEN C. WAY
Assistant Attorney General