APPEAL from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County; the Hon.
FRANCIS E. MAXWELL, Judge, presiding.
MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE EBERSPACHER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Plaintiffs commenced this litigation by filing a petition with the St. Clair County Board of School Trustees to change the boundaries of the East St. Louis School District No. 189, Grant School District No. 110 and the Belleville Township High School District No. 201, pursuant to ch. 122, sec. 1, et seq., Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967. The petition requested that a certain described portion of land be detached from the East St. Louis School District and that portion so detached be annexed to the Grant School District and the Belleville Township High School District.
The East St. Louis and Belleville Districts filed with the Board of School Trustees, separate motions to dismiss the petition, alleging indebtedness of the East St. Louis District to the School Building Commission, a lack of reimbursement or offer to reimburse, and that there had been no advice by the Commission of a determination or compliance with ch. 122, sec. 35-17, Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967. Thereafter in response to the motion to dismiss, the petitioners filed an amended petition wherein they professed their willingness and ability to pay their proportionate share of any existing debt that the East St. Louis District may owe to the School Building Commission. No request was made to the School Building Commission for any determination of its opinion of the effect of the requested action.
The St. Clair Board of School Trustees did not rule on the motions to dismiss but proceeded to hear the petition on the merits. A hearing was held, evidence presented, exhibits introduced and testimony heard, at the conclusion of which the Trustees granted the motion to dismiss.
The plaintiffs next filed a petition for rehearing before the Trustees, which was denied. Then the plaintiffs, pursuant to the "Administrative Review Act" (ch. 110, sec. 264, et seq.), filed a complaint for Review of the Trustees' Decision in the Circuit Court of St. Clair County.
The court filed its order denying the plaintiffs requested relief and affirming the action of the Trustees. The court stated in its order:
"The court feels that § 35-17 of Chapter 122 is constitutional notwithstanding the fact that no provision for review of the decision of the Building Commission is provided in the statute. The delegation by the legislature to the Building Commission to enforce is proper. The action of the School Building Commission could be reviewed by the courts in a proper case, and the action could be reversed upon showing that the decision of the School Building Commission was arbitrary, capricious, or was (not) based upon facts established by the evidence."
The plaintiffs perfected their appeal of the decision of the Circuit Court to the Supreme Court, which, after allowing the School Building Commission to become a party, transferred the appeal to this Court. The plaintiffs contend that sec. 35-17 is unconstitutional in that it is an unlawful delegation of legislative authority in that it contains no intelligible standards to guide the School Building Commission and also because it deprives the plaintiffs of the hearing that is guaranteed to them by sec. 7-6, ch. 122, Ill. Rev. Stat. The plaintiffs also urge that the Trustees, based on the evidence of the hearing, should have made the decision on the merits allowing their petition to change the boundaries.
Section 35-17, supra, requires that "* * * no territory shall be detached from any school district * * * unless the Commission shall determine and advise the County Board * * * of School Trustees that such detachment * * * will not in its opinion impair the ultimate reimbursement to the State * * *." (Emphasis ours.) If this statute is constitutional, then the plaintiffs must be denied the sought relief as it is clear that the requirements of the statute have not been fulfilled, and the Board of School Trustees could not grant the Petition. The plaintiffs did not request the School Building Commission to determine and advise the Trustees. The Trustees did request the determination and advice of the School Building Commission. Mr. John Moore, the Executive Director of the Commission testifying as a witness called by the East St. Louis District, testified that the Commission met on July 18, 1969, and voted unanimously to reject the detachment, after he had made an investigation to determine the effect of the proposed detachment. The record is clear that the School Building Commission not only failed to give the negative advice, that, in its opinion the detachment would not impair the ultimate reimbursement, but rather gave its positive opinion that it would oppose the boundary change action.
• 1 "It is our duty to interpret the statute in such a manner as to promote its essential purpose and to avoid, if possible, a construction which would raise doubts as to its validity." (Stubblefield v. City of Chicago, 48 Ill.2d 267, 269 N.E.2d 504.) The purpose of sec. 35-17 may be gleaned from sec. 35-1 wherein the legislative pronouncement states "For the purpose of providing school sites, buildings and equipment to meet the needs of school districts unable to provide such facilities because of lack of funds and constitutional bonding limitations and for the purpose of acquiring non-public school buildings and other related real property the School Building Commission * * * is hereby continued in full force and effect." The powers of the commission are set forth in sec. 35-5 and it is worthy of note that sec. 35-5(j) states in part "To develop a system of documents and analyses necessary to maintain the statutory cost limitations placed upon Commission projects * * *."
The structure and purpose of the School Building Commission Act is similar to the Illinois Building Authority Act *fn1 and the Public Buildings Commission Act. *fn2 Although neither of these two Acts provide specifically for judicial review of their decisions their constitutionality has been upheld. Both have, however, been reviewed by our Supreme Court. People ex rel. Adamowski v. Public Bldg. Com., 11 Ill.2d 125, 142 N.E.2d 67; People ex rel. Stamos v. Public Bldg. Com., 40 Ill.2d 164, 238 N.E.2d 390; Berger v. Howlett, 25 Ill.2d 128, 182 N.E.2d 673.
• 2 The appellants herein contend that sec. 35-17 is unconstitutional for two specific reasons. First, the appellants contend that the statute is an unlawful delegation of legislative authority in that it contains no intelligible standards to guide the School Building Commission. The law has been set forth by our Supreme Court in Hill v. Relyea, 34 Ill.2d 552, 555, 216 N.E.2d 795, 797:
"There is a distinction between the delegation of true legislative power and the delegation to a subordinate of authority to execute the law. (Lydy, Inc. v. City of Chicago, 356 Ill. 230, 190 N.E. 273.) The former involves a discretion as to what the law shall be; the latter is merely an authority or discretion as to its execution, to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law. (People v. Warren, 11 Ill.2d 420, 143 N.E.2d 28; City of Evanston v. Wazau, 364 Ill. 198, 4 N.E.2d 78, 106 A.L.R. 789; McDougall v. Lueder, 389 Ill. 141, 58 N.E.2d 809, 156 A.L.R. 1058.) It is an established rule that the General Assembly cannot delegate its general legislative power to determine what the law shall be. However, it may delegate to others the authority to do those things which the legislature might properly do, but cannot do as understandingly or advantageously. (Board of Education v. Page, 33 Ill.2d 372, 211 N.E.2d 361; People ex rel. Daesch v. Mayor of Belleville, 22 Ill.2d 226, 174 N.E.2d 678; City of Evanston v. Wazau, 364 Ill. 198, 4 N.E.2d 78, 106 A.L.R. 789.) Absolute criteria whereby every detail necessary in the enforcement of a law is anticipated need not be established by the General Assembly. The constitution merely requires that intelligible standards be set to guide the agency charged with enforcement, (Memorial Gardens Assn., Inc. v. Smith, 16 Ill.2d 116, 156 N.E.2d 587; People v. Warren, 11 Ill.2d 420, 143 N.E.2d 28) and the precision of the permissible standard must necessarily vary according to the nature of the ultimate objective and the problems involved. Board of Education v. Page, 33 Ill.2d 372, 211 N.E.2d 361; People ex rel. Daesch v. Mayor of Belleville, 22 Ill.2d 226, 174 N.E.2d 678."
In that case the legislature gave the superintendent of a hospital power to discharge patients "as the welfare of such person and of the community may require". Stating that it is apparent why there was difficulty in setting more precise standards, the court then went on to say "The nature of the objectives to be achieved and the problems to be solved negate the usefulness of setting more precise ...