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Spaulding School Dist. v. Waukegan

OPINION FILED JANUARY 22, 1960.

SPAULDING SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 58 ET AL., APPELLANTS,

v.

WAUKEGAN CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 61 ET AL., APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Lake County; the Hon. BERNARD M. DECKER, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE DAVIS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This case involves a dispute between two school districts over territory recently annexed to the city of Waukegan. The plaintiffs, Spaulding School District No. 58, herein called the Spaulding District, and its Board of Education filed a complaint in the circuit court of Lake County against the Waukegan City School District No. 61, herein called the Waukegan City District, and others, as defendants. They sought to enjoin the inclusion of certain territory in the Waukegan City District and other relief. The trial court dismissed the complaint on defendant's motion, and plaintiffs have appealed directly to this court in that the franchise of the Waukegan City District under its special charter is involved. People ex rel. Doney v. The Village of Skokie, 15 Ill.2d 288; Ill. Rev. Stat. 1957, chap. 110, par. 75.

The disputed territory was formerly unincorporated and a part of the Spaulding District. It is undisputed, however, that it was annexed to and made a part of the city of Waukegan on April 23, 1958. It is the contention of plaintiffs that this annexation, without action by the county board of school trustees, did not detach the area from the Spaulding District. Defendants urge that the annexation of the area by the city automatically brings it within the Waukegan City District, because it is a special charter district.

The city of Waukegan was incorporated by a special charter enacted by the legislature on January 23, 1859, and its 29th paragraph provides: "All territory now or hereafter within said city shall be one school district, to be denominated `The Waukegan City School District,' which shall be a school organization separate from the township, and shall receive directly its lawful share of all funds hereafter distributed by the school commissioner of Lake County, as townships may, to be by him paid to the city treasurer."

Section 32-31 of the School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1957, chap. 122, par. 32-31) provides: "Any special charter district which desires to annex or disconnect territory, may proceed under the provisions of the Revised Cities and Villages Act; provided, however, that in all instances where a special charter has been granted to a city or village for the operation, conduct or maintenance of schools, that annexation to or disconnection of territory from such city and village, either heretofore or hereafter made, shall constitute annexation to or disconnection from said special charter school district."

It is the theory of plaintiffs that the 1945 revision of the School Code, and the 1951 enactment of articles 4A and 4B (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1957, chap. 122, articles 4A, 4B,) effectuated a repeal of paragraph 29 of such special charter and section 32-31 of the School Code. If such is the case, then the charter of the Waukegan City District was thereby extinguished and the territory which had been embraced in such district thereupon became a school district under the School Code by operation of law. This involves the continued existence of the Waukegan City District and the creation of another district embracing the same territory. Consequently a franchise is involved. People ex rel. Doney v. Village of Skokie, 15 Ill.2d 288; Winne v. People ex rel. Hess, 177 Ill. 268.

Article 4A created a county board of school trustees, provided for their election, the organization of the board and similar procedural details. Article 4B provided for the creation of new school districts and the change of the boundaries of existing districts by the county board of school trustees. Plaintiffs contend that this legislation requires that any changes in the boundaries of school districts within Lake County must be made by the county board of school trustees.

In examining this contention, an historical approach to the legislation in this field is beneficial, for frequently the path of history clarifies legislative action. The special charter was granted to the city of Waukegan by the legislature in 1859 and provided for a school district coextensive with the limits of the city. Laws of 1859, p. 347.

Most school boundary changes were thereafter made by the township school trustees of the township or townships in which the district was situated. (Laws of 1889, p. 278, sec. 47; Laws of 1909, p. 354, sec. 46; Laws of 1927, p. 787, sec. 46; Laws of 1937, p. 1117, sec. 46; Laws of 1943, vol. 1, p. 1273, sec. 46; Ill. Rev. Stat. 1945, chap. 122, par. 4-30.) Where the boundary changes involved districts which were located in more than one township, concurrent action of the several boards of trustees, in which the district was situated, was required. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1945, chap. 122, par. 4-31.) This procedure rendered changes in boundaries in such districts both cumbersome and difficult.

However, after 1871, boundary changes in cities were accomplished under the provisions of the Cities and Villages Act, (Laws of 1871-72, p. 264, par. 1; Laws of 1901, p. 95, sec. 1; Laws of 1913, p. 135, sec. 1; Laws of 1927, p. 214, sec. 1; Laws of 1939, p. 414, sec. 1; Ill. Rev. Stat. 1939, chap. 24, par. 369,) and in 1941 the legislature specifically amended the School Law to also provide that any special charter district which desired to annex or disconnect territory may proceed under the Revised Cities and Villages Act, thereby correlating the provisions of the Revised Cities and Villages Act and the School Law. See: Laws of 1941, vol. 2, p. 475, sec. 1; Ill. Rev. Stat. 1941, chap. 122, par. 363.1; Ill. Rev. Stat. 1957, chap. 122, par. 32-31.

By the enactment of articles 4A and 4B, the legislature recognized the inadequacies of the system of township boards of school trustees, discontinued its use, and created a county board of school trustees with broad powers in connection with the change in school boundaries generally. Such county boards were given sole authority over all school boundary changes in the county, with two exceptions. School districts in cities of over 500,000 in population, which were organized under article 34 of the School Code, and "any school district whose school board has been given the powers of school trustees," were excluded. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1957, chap. 122, par. 4A-2.

At the time of the adoption of these articles, the only school boards possessing the powers of school trustees were school boards in special charter districts. The special charter of the city of Waukegan created an appointive school board and clothed it with substantially all the powers of a board of school trustees, including the power to hold title to and sell property, to collect all claims, and to sue. Cf. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1957, chap. 122, par. 4-21 to 4-28, and Charter of City of Waukegan, Laws of 1859, secs. 29-39 incl., pages 347 to 350.

This historical background of changes in the school law which was an overall part of the legislative program to consolidate school districts, also indicates a legislative intent to give to the county boards of school trustees the powers formerly held by the various township boards of school trustees. However, the legislature did not abolish special charter school districts, but on the contrary repeatedly recognized their existence and continued their functions in full force and effect.

At the beginning of the legislative program to consolidate school districts and to encourage the creation of unit school districts, special charter districts afforded the best example of both unification and adequacy in size. In view of these facts and this background, we cannot agree that it was the intent of the legislature that either the special charter of the Waukegan City District ...


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