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HUNLOCK TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT v. NORTHWEST JOINT SCHOOL DISTRICT LUZERNE COUNTY. (02/01/55)

February 1, 1955

HUNLOCK TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT, APPELLANT,
v.
NORTHWEST JOINT SCHOOL DISTRICT OF LUZERNE COUNTY.



Appeal, No. 112, Jan. T., 1955, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, October T., 1954, in Equity, No. 22, in case of Stanley Croop and School District of Hunlock Township v. Northwest Joint School District of Luzerne County et al. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

Neville b. Shea, with him Shea & Shea, for appellants.

John Arnold Crisman, for appellees.

Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Bell, Chidsey and Musmanno, JJ.

Author: Jones

[ 380 Pa. Page 465]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE JONES

The narrow question in this case is whether the purchase of a school site by a joint school district can be accomplished by the favorable vote of two-thirds of the constituent school boards of the joint district. The learned court below decided the question in the affirmative and dismissed the bill seeking an injunction. The plaintiffs have appealed, contending that the favorable vote of each of the constituent school boards of the joint district is required. The material facts are not in dispute, the parties having submitted an agreed statement of facts pursuant to Rule 41 of this court.

On October 30, 1952, the school districts of Fairmount, Hunlock, Huntington and Union Townships and of Shickshinney and New Columbus Boroughs and, later, the district of Salem Township, all district of the fourth class located in Luzerne County, entered into a jointure agreement for the creation of the Northwest Joint School District of Luzerne County. A majority of the members of each of the constituent boards of directors voted to approve the jointure. The jointure agreement contemplated the continued operation of the existing elementary educational system under the administration and supervision of the joint board and the construction of a new secondary school for the common benefit of the participating districts. Accordingly, the jointure agreement provided, inter alia, that "A new secondary school shall be built by the Joint Board located on a minimum of twenty (20) acres as near the level as would be adequate for good drainage, and as near the geographical center as possible on hard

[ 380 Pa. Page 466]

    roads accessible to the participating School Districts, taking into consideration pupil population in order to maintain minimum transportation. The Joint Board shall begin at once to plan for this new secondary building."

On August 4, 1954, the boards of the joint district adopted two resolutions authorizing the purchase of two parcels of land in Union Township as a site for the new school building. The resolutions were approved by a majority of all of the directors and by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the boards of the component school districts, the vote of a board being determined by a majority vote of its members. The school board of Hunlock Township district voted against both resolutions while a majority of the members of the board of the Union Township school district voted against one of the resolutions but less than a majority of that board voted against the other resolution. Before the purchase of the new school site had been completed, the school district of Hunlock Township and one Stanley Croop, a taxpayer of that district, filed a bill in equity in the court below against the joint school district and the constituent districts, seeking to restrain the purchase on the ground, inter alia, that the resolution of the boards of the joint district authorizing the purchase had not received an affirmative vote of each of the boards of the constituent districts. The defendants answered and asserted that an affirmative vote by the boards of two-thirds of the constituent districts was sufficient. Thereafter, three other taxpayers from the Fairmount, Huntington and Union Township school districts, respectively, were permitted to intervene as parties plaintiff. The matter came on for a hearing and on October 6, 1954, the chancellor filed an adjudication wherein he found the relevant facts from which he drew appropriate conclusions

[ 380 Pa. Page 467]

    of law and entered a decree nisi dismissing the bill. Exceptions to the decree nisi were thereafter overruled by the court en banc which entered a final ...


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