Opinion 95 - 16


This opinion represents the views of the Office of the State Comptroller at the time it was rendered. The opinion may no longer represent those views if, among other things, there have been subsequent court cases or statutory amendments that bear on the issues discussed in the opinion.

SCHOOL DISTRICTS -- Central High School Districts (apportionment of expenses among school districts included therein)

WORDS AND PHRASES -- "Last preceding assessment roll" (meaning of for purposes of Education Law, §1908[1])

EDUCATION LAW, §1908(1): A central high school district is required to apportion expenses among the school districts therein on the basis of the assessed valuations on the latest finally completed assessment roll as of the date of the apportionment.

This is in reply to your request for our opinion as to the proper assessment roll to be used for the apportionment required by section 1908 of the Education Law.

Subdivision one of section 1908 of the Education Law requires the board of education of a central high school district to cause the amount required for certain payments to be apportioned among the school districts included in the central high school district. In this regard, subdivision one of section 1908 generally provides that:

There shall be apportioned to each such district such portion of such amount as the assessed valuation of the taxable property in such district bears to the total assessed valuation of all the school districts included in such central high school district, as appears from the last preceding assessment roll. The board of education of such central high school district shall on or before July first of each year present to the board of education of each union free school district and to the trustee or board of trustees of each common school district in such central high school district a certified statement of the portion of such amount to be paid by each of such districts . . . and the said boards of education, boards of trustees or trustees shall cause the same to be raised by tax on the taxable property in such districts in the same manner as other taxes for the support and maintenance of the schools therein (emphasis added).

Thus, subdivision one of section 1908 generally requires the expenses of a central high school district to be apportioned annually on or before July 1, on the basis of the assessed valuations on the "last preceding assessment roll". Section 1908, however, does not define the phrase "last preceding assessment roll".

It is a general rule of statutory construction that, absent a showing of legislative intent to the contrary, "words of a statute will be interpreted in their ordinary acceptance and significance and the meaning commonly attributed to them" (Phaneuf v City of Plattsburgh, 84 Misc 2d 70, 74, 376 NYS2d 781, 785, affd 50 AD2d 614, 375 NYS2d 500, lv dismissed 38 NY2d 1004, 384 NYS2d 441; see also McKinney's Statutes, §§94, 232). Thus, in our view, the phrase "last preceding assessment roll" as used in subdivision one of section 1908 refers to the latest finally completed assessment roll as of the date of the apportionment (see Doyle v Town of Diana, 203 App Div 239, 196 NYS 864; cf. Hurley v Cheshire, 234 App Div 464, 255 NYS 486, affd 259 NY 582, "last preceding" census refers to last census immediately preceding official action).

Accordingly, in our opinion, the apportionment required by subdivision one of section 1908 of the Education Law must be made on the basis of the assessed valuations on the latest finally completed assessment roll as of the date of the apportionment.

June 28, 1995
Dr. Donald A. Howard , Superintendent of Schools
Valley Stream High School District