Interpretation's Date: April 17, 1998
by superintendent Henry Marockie
Section: VI. School Construction, Buildings, and Sites

April 17, 1998

Dr. Deborah S. Akers
Mercer County Schools
1403 Honaker Avenue
Princeton, West Virginia 24740

Dear Dr. Akers:

You have asked, giving due consideration to W. Va. Code §18-5-7 and 18-5-7b, whether a county board of education may:

(1) ...enter into a long-term lease (for a period of 50 years or greater) for nominal consideration with a private, nonprofit, tax-exempt organization?

(2) If so, may the lease provide that the lessee has the right to sublease the property to a for-profit entity, for either (a) a nominal consideration or (b) more than nominal consideration?
W. Va. Code 18-5-7 provides:

If at any time the board shall ascertain that any building or any land no longer shall be needed for school purposes, the board may sell, dismantle, remove or relocate any such buildings and sell the land on which they are located at public auction, after proper notice, and on such terms as it orders, to the highest responsible bidder....The board by the same method prescribed for the sale of school buildings and lands, may also lease for oil or gas or other minerals any lands or school sites owned in fee by it....Provided further, That the provisions of this section concerning sale at public auction shall not apply to boards of education selling or disposing of its property for a public use to the state of West Virginia, or its political subdivisions, including county commissions or divisions thereof, for an adequate consideration without considering alone the present commercial or market value of the property....

It appears that this section provides the exclusive method for disposing of property no longer needed for school purposes. It further appears that the statute does not provide for the lease of school property except where the lease is for the purpose of extracting oil or gas or other minerals on property owned by the county board. It further appears that the statute does not contemplate sale of board- owned property to private entities, whether for-profit or not. Enclosed is a copy of a 1974 interpretation relating to the issues you raise.
Therefore, in answer to your questions:

(1) the answer is no unless the lease is for the purpose of extracting oil or gas or other minerals. W. Va. Code 18-5-7 would sanction the sale of property by the board to an entity that is a political subdivision of the state of West Virginia.

(2) the answer is no.

We trust we have been of service.



Henry Marockie
State Superintendent of Schools

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